To Confront a Portrait in the New Year

A Moment of Reflection Inspired by Walt Whitman


The new year brings with it the possibility of change, a season ripe with resolutions and retrospection. In 2017, our access to image making and consumption will continue to be grand. Most of us unceremoniously hold a master key to an infinite catalogue of images and data in our pocket. The ease with which we can capture an image on our phone and immediately send it out to the trolls and coddlers of the Internet world makes it possible for us to mass-produce ourselves like never before in human history. With this access comes the responsibility and burden of how we choose to make our Selves to the world. Who do we find as we scroll through the detritus of these amassing images of ourselves?


In order to proceed in our self-reflective musings, we need to go back to the 19th century, to the person who gave Americans the liberty and manner to explore notions of Self at all. Back to the pivotal moment that inextricably connects the literary and photographic representation of self. We need to go back to that serendipitous union of Walt Whitman and the daguerreotype.



Daguerreotype portrait made of Whitman, age 29. Photo courtesy of the Walt Whitman House, Camden, New Jersey.


In the mid-1800s, Walt Whitman (poet, editor, genius, and general eccentric) wrote a new kind of poetry, grounded in a profound notion of self and elevated by a visceral description of the corporeal. Considered the father of free verse poetry, Whitman wrote himself out of the confines of meter and rhyme, opening his poetry up with an intimacy that felt as if he were sharing a conversation with his readers. His work provided a complete portrait of human life with catalogues of imagery ranging from ejaculate to an autumn landscape to trash. His critics deemed this frank perspective crude and most people did not appreciate his quest to democratize poetry, his hope to instill within the medium a more honest semblance of reality.


At the same time as Whitman crafted his literary portrait of the candid Self, the daguerreotype made its way to America. The daguerreotype was the first publicly accessible photographic process…Ever. By treating a polished sheet of silver-plated copper with chemical fumes that make it light sensitive, exposing this to light, and finally developing it with mercury vapor —voilà, a moment captured in time with precision never before attainable! Before the daguerreotype, oil paintings were the dominant way to render the representation of a subject. Now, it is hard for us to imagine a world without the Internet, let alone a world without photos, but the daguerreotype was the very first of its kind. The images were considered to be exact copies of the subject, free from the creative interpretations of the limner and their painted portraits. Whitman described his aesthetic preference: “I find I often like the photographs better than the oils—they are perhaps mechanical, but they are honest. The artists add and deduct: the artists fool with nature.”



Of all his many portraits, Whitman declared this photo, “the best picture of all…I was at my best—physically at my best, mentally, every way.” Age 44.  Photo courtesy of the Alderman Library, University of Virginia.


Flash-forward about one hundred and seventy years and we cannot deny the creative control that a photographer holds over the representation of their subject. The numerous and powerful ways in which a photographer can manipulate the reality of the subject (via lens, type of film, aperture, etc.) are undeniable. Acknowledge our anachronistic perspective and then try to imagine the magnitude of this visual paradigm shift in the 19th century. Imagine looking from oil painting — a textured plane with brush strokes visible to shatter the illusion of the subject’s reality, to daguerreotype — a glossy specter of the subject that seemingly floats in a dimension all its own. Imagine the thrill and terror of being the first generation to witness your own aging through images of your immortally youthful past. Imagine how severe and important these images must have felt. Whitman describes the experience of looking at a portrait, “An electric chain seems to vibrate… between our brain and him or her preserved there so well by the [photographer’s] cunning. Time, space, both are annihilated, and we identify the semblance with the reality.”



Whitman in the sitting room of his home, age 68. Photo courtesy of the Alderman Library, University of Virginia.


Whitman fell deeply in love with the symbolic and aesthetic possibilities presented by photography. Ed Folsom best describes this creative synthesis, “[Whitman’s] catalogues brought reality hurtling into poetry with the same speed that photographs were cataloguing reality.” Just as Whitman distilled candid lived experience in his poetry by including the lewd, mundane, and magnificent details of life, so too did photography establish a condensed, potent particle of life itself, unedited, full of detail. While these processes are undoubtedly parallel, it is important to recognize the ways in which they resist each other. If photographs, for Whitman, ‘annihilate’ time through their mechanical nature, then his poetry recreates time through emotion, re-instills the fullness of time through visceral experience.



The original frontispiece to Leaves of Grass, engraving done by Samuel Hollyer based from a daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison, age 35. Photo courtesy of the Bayley Collection, Ohio Wesleyan.


Whitman’s magnum opus, Leaves of Grass, provides the most salient example of how photography informed his literary process. In the summer of 1855, Whitman independently published the first edition of Leaves of Grass. This small collection of only 12 poems did not include the author’s name in print. Instead, Whitman chose to be represented visually in the frontispiece by an engraving made from a daguerreotype portrait. It wasn’t until the third edition of the book that he decided to print his named on the cover or title page at all. Throughout the numerous editions of Leaves of Grass, Whitman continued to include a photographic representation of himself, updating the portraits as he aged. Over the span of a 35 year period, Whitman continued to revise and publish the collection, which grew exponentially from 12 to 400 poems, releasing over six vastly different editions. Leaves of Grass was a life-long creation for Whitman, something not to be finished until he himself could no longer live to write it again. The last edition was published two months before his death. With each iteration of Leaves of Grass, Whitman re-imagined the project to find a new relevancy for his readers and for himself. In many ways, Leaves of Grass functioned as the literary portrait of the man, analogous to the many photographic portraits Whitman affectionately collected of himself.


Perhaps Whitman would have been the first in line for the newest, smartest phone. Perhaps the possibility of holding a camera and publisher in our pocket is his dream of democratizing poetry and images in one: a tweet and a selfie. Perhaps the excess of this access would be disturbing to him, a perversion of the potential held by the daguerreotype. As fascinated by the images of himself as he was, in his later years, Whitman began to question whom exactly the photographs represented. He found himself overwhelmed by the various selves that surrounded him in the form of his younger portraits, “It is hard to extract a man’s real self—any man— from such a chaotic mass—from such historic debris.” These musings of “Self” preservation hold equal potency in the hyperreal spaces that we occupy today. While Whitman was the most photographed writer of the 19th century, he earned this title with only about 150 portraits. How many images of your Self exist in our nebulous reality right now? Hundreds? Thousands? If Walt Whitman could not handle the scope of 150 portraits, how do we propose to manage 1,500 imitations of our Selves? How do these images represent you? What do these images take away from you? How can we further democratize our Selves in an age of simulation?


As we move into 2017, we encourage you to engage in this crisis of Self.



The final frontispiece of a rare 1892 edition of Leaves of Grass, age 72. Photo courtesy of The Library of Congress.




Works Cited:

Folsom, Ed. “Introduction: “This Heart’s Geography’s Map”: The Photographs of Walt Whitman.” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 4 (Fall 1986), 1-5.

Folsom, Ed. Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman (Iowa City: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005).

Library of Congress. America’s First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839-1862.

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass. 1855 & 1892.

The History of the Customer Show

The Blue Moon Camera and Machine annual Customer Show is our favorite event of the year. Opening in December to celebrate our anniversary, we somehow have conned our staff, customers, fans, and friends to get dressed up and walk the streets of St. Johns in the rain and cold all evening, and it’s always been 100% worth it. On this 15th Anniversary and 14th year of Customer Show-ing, we’re feeling nostalgic: let’s take a step back a little over a decade ago to when this whole Show thing got started.

Photo by John Bodaly

Photo by John Bodaly

Discussion of the first customer show brings us back to the image that began the show. While sifting through prints one day in the lab to perform routine quality checks, Jake stumbled upon an image that he instantly adored, made by our customer and friend John Bodaly. “I knew that, left to its own devices, this image would eventually be put in a box somewhere, to be potentially forgotten and never seen again, and I couldn’t stand for it,” Jake says of the discovery. Motivated by his drive to ensure that this and other photos that are too good to go unseen have their day (or month) in the spotlight, the Blue Moon crew made a show. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and a decade and a half later, it’s still does.

The overall idea of the show has been the same since that first photo: during the staff’s normal routines in the print lab, there are images we come across that make us stop and take notice. These images are then shown to the rest of the staff, and a majority vote is taken as to whether or not it should be put into the show. If 51% of the staff like it, it goes in the Show. Some of the photos are a close call, coming down to tie breaking arguments on either side, while others are unanimous, but once it’s in it’s all just a part of the Show. The customer is informed of their selection, asked to sign a print to participate or decline the invitation, and all the approved prints get mounted and hung in anticipation of an early December opening.

The actual event of the Show has evolved over the years. The first Show took place in December 2003 to celebrate our second anniversary of the store’s opening. At the time the Show hung in one venue: a neighborhood cafe then called Cafe NOLA, which has since been renamed to Proper Eats. Those who have been to a Customer Show opening before know that Proper Eats remains our Show’s hub, and while we’ve expanded to more venues over time, Proper has been the host of the current year’s show and, in later years, after-show dance party.


After a couple years of the Show, we started running out of room for all the stellar photos our customers were making. In 2005 we added a second venue: the Cafe Xeno’s, now James John Cafe. The expansion to another venue allowed us to display more than one year’s Show. This began the tradition of the current year opening in Cafe NOLA/Proper Eats, with previous years’ Shows appearing in our other venues. Like Proper, James John continues the tradition begun by Cafe Xeno’s of hosting a Show each year. Over time we continued to grow, eventually coming to the five venues the Show boasts today.


Photo by Marah Anderson

Eventually, we started having a dance party after the formal opening reception. Mostly this is because we love a good dance party, but it was also meant to give the staff, who all worked the show, a chance to party off the clock with everyone else. We’d tell you for sure what year we started doing that, but it was such a good time that none of us can really remember for sure. At a certain point between 2010 and 2012 the post-show memories all start to get a little hazy around the edges, so we’re guessing it started some time around there.


One of the best things about the Customer Show always was the photos themselves. We’re not exaggerating when we say that these are the best images we’ve seen all year, and that we bet they’ll be some of the best anyone else could see. Our customers are creative, brilliant people, and to gather work from over 100 creative, brilliant photographers together for one viewing creates a staggering display. And we’re not the only ones who think so – One year, a man approached Jake in a huff and demanded to know what stock service the photographs came from. Jake reassured him that the Show was exactly what it was advertised to be: a collection of our customers’ work from the year. The incredulous attendee responded with, “There’s no way this work came from a mini lab.” Well, it did. And our customers really are just that good. Some may think it defies logic, but what good has logic ever done us, anyway?


Photo by Jesse McMartin

Our stock photography salesman wasn’t the only Show attendee who couldn’t believe that our customers were capable of the excellence shown on the walls. Another accusation came to us with assertions that we were performing heavy digital post production work on our images, doctoring them to be more interesting, compelling, and beautiful than a straight film shot from “amateur” photographers could be. This was also a foolish accusation, as all of our prints pass through an optical printing machine that has what could be thought of as only eight buttons related to image correction: +/- Cyan, +/- Magenta, +/- Yellow, +/- Density. When a button is pushed, it affects the whole photograph, helping to take away overall color casting and brighten dark shots, and that’s about it. The rest of the credit belongs to our customers.


These two occasions far from take away from the Show, and if anything only stand as testaments to how wonderful it is. The wonder is certainly in the photographs themselves, but it’s also in the event as a whole. When we say that the Customer Show is what we consider to be the biggest and most important undertaking of our year, we hope you understand what we mean. We’re honored by the opportunity to gather and show the images that moved us – that made us think, laugh, cry, advocate, and appreciate. We’re further thrilled for the excuse to throw a big party, put on our best dress, discuss art with strangers, and walk the streets of our beloved neighborhood well into the wet and cold winter night. If you’re in town and have not been to a Show opening night, come. If you’re not in town, make the trip. The only word to explain what it’s like to gather so many art lovers in one neighborhood for one night in celebration of theirs and others’ work is magic. The air is filled with it. Also, making new friends while asking their favorites and arguing in support of yours will give you a little taste of what it’s like to be in the lab, selecting images and sharing a love for them. It’s the best part of Show night, and it’s a gift our customers have given us for which we can never repay them.

Photo by Will Walle

As far as the future of the Customer Show, who knows? As long as we have customers, we will have an annual Customer Show. Aside from that, we’ll see what opportunties may come our way. But come December you can always count on us to show up, Show hung and ready to shake our tail feathers all night long (or at least until Proper finally sends us all home).


The Traditional Staff Photo: Customer Show openings through the years




staff photo cust show 2013



Typewriter Troubleshooting

Using a typewriter is a rewarding and fun writing experience, but your typing journey can be unexpectedly waylaid by some common quirks for these machines. We’d like to help you troubleshoot some of the more common typewriting issues you may come across. Whether you did a lot of typing a long time ago and are now a bit out of practice, or you’ve got your hands on the first typewriter you’ve ever personally encountered, these short tips will likely solve many of the issues you may encounter on a manual typer. (But If these fast fixes don’t work, though, stop there! The problem is likely more in depth than what you should attempt to fix on your own.)

To further illustrate some of these tricks, we’ll use these three machines as examples:

From left to right: A Smith Corona Sterling portable, Corona Quiet Writer portable, and Underwood Noiseless desktop

From left to right: A Smith Corona Sterling, Smith Corona Silent Four Bank, and Underwood Noiseless Upright desktop


“My carriage won’t move!”

Chances are the carriage is locked down to allow for safe transport. If your typewriter is fresh off the Blue Moon Camera shelf, we usually do this before sending you on your way with your new companion. Nine times out of ten the solution for this is as easy as finding the carriage release on your machine (which, admittedly, can be a bit tricky). If you’re unsure where the release is, try finding the machine’s manual in an online search. For example, on the Smith Corona Sterling, the carriage lock is the silver switch pictured below. For this more modern machine, the carriage is released by gently guiding the carriage all the way to the right and then all the way to the left.

Left: Carriage lock switch on the SMITH CORONA STERLING; Right: Slide carriage to right then left to unlock

Left: Carriage lock switch on the Smith Corona Sterling; Right: Slide carriage to right then left to unlock


“The type is way too light – what gives?”

This could be one of two things. If you can’t remember the last time you changed the typewriter ribbon, it’s likely time for a replacement. Ribbons lose their ink over time with use or dry out when left sitting for too long. If you need a new ribbon, you can come in the shop or stop by the Automat – the ones we have in stock fit *most* manual machines. If you’re unsure or nervous about whether or not this is the right size ribbon for your machine, feel free to contact us.

If you know that your ribbon is relatively fresh, there’s another factor that could be affecting your typing clarity: many machines come with a stencil mode, which could be making your typer produce outlines of letters rather than its typical bold typeface. Like the carriage release, the switch to turn this off could be pretty much anywhere on your machine. Track down a manual or do a thorough internet search for info on your particular make and model of machine.



“Where the heck is the exclamation point!”

Don’t worry, the typists of yesteryear were just as fond of punctuation emoting as we are today. Even if you may not see an exclamation point on your typewriter’s available symbols, that doesn’t mean you can’t type one. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Type an apostrophe (‘) – for most typewriters this is Shift 8
  2. Use the backspace key
  3. Type a period on the same space as the apostrophe
  4. Rejoice!



“And I don’t have the number 1, either!”

Don’t panic! Many typers don’t. These machines made the most of their space by using the lower case letter L any time they needed to type the first numeral. You’11 1earn to 1ove this stream1ined design feature.



“Why can I only type a few characters per line/What’s up with these margins?”

Ok, here’s where things get a little bit crazy. These machines were designed by fastidious individuals who, much to our appreciation, made it possible for us to laugh in the face of the standard 1″ margin whenever we pleased. Like a document in Word, the margins can be be set and reset on most any machine. If your carriage isn’t moving as far as you’d like before starting a new line, or letting you type too far along a page, resetting the margins will probably solve your problem.

For most machines, there are margin tabs along the paper table of the machine. Some might be behind the paper table. They may be plastic or metal. Here’s a general guide to setting them:

  1. Push down gently on the tabs and slide them to the far ends of the paper table: one on the left and the other on the right.
  2. Insert the size of paper you plan on using for reference.
  3. Center your type guide (the little metal window or point that shows you where your letters are striking as you type) where on the paper you want your left margin to begin.
  4. Gently slide the left margin tab towards your type guide. It should stop automatically, setting your left margin.
  5. Center your type guide where on the paper you want your right margin to begin.
  6. Gently slide the right margin tab towards your type guide. It should stop automatically, setting your right margin.
  7. Slide both the left and right paper fingers/rollers (these hold your paper down, either on a bar or on their own) to be in line with the margin tabs. If your typewriter has a ruler on the paper table and the bar that rests on your paper, you can refer to this for a more precise placement. These fingers/rollers provide visual cues for where your margins are as you type.



“I’m at the end of my line, but I only have a couple more letters left to type.”

Speaking of margins, there’s also a handy button on most machines called the “margin release” button. This releases your margins (which you set above) and lets you keep typing on the same line without keeping to the margin rules. So don’t stress; you don’t need to resort to weird hyphenations to finish off your end-of-line word.




Now that we’ve (hopefully) solved your typer troubles, here are some general tips in typewriter upkeep:

  • Always save your spools.  More often than not, we can supply your machine with a factory-ready ribbon, but there are occasions when we need to wind a roll of inked ribbon onto your existing spools.  Failing that, or on particularly old or historic machines, we can actually re-ink the existing ribbon.
  • Have your machine serviced every two years, or with the change of every ribbon. A machine that is being used will constantly lubricate itself and will be in better shape over the long haul, but even the most loved machines can use a little tune up and adjustment every once in awhile.
  • Leave the complicated work to the experts. Respooling ribbon and general upkeep is something that may come easily with practice, but as anyone who’s opened a typewriter can tell you, these are complex machines. The intricate tinkering is best left to the repairmen and women.



Lastly, it’s important to note that to truly appreciate the satisfaction of employing a typewriter, you must be operating a well maintained machine.  There is no comparison to be made between a typer that has been languishing in a basement for twenty years and a freshly lubricated, fully adjusted writing machine. So if you know that the typewriter sitting in front of you hasn’t been typed with or touched for at least the past 2 years, it’s likely time for a tune up. If this is the case, or if your issue wasn’t solved by any of the above tips, please feel free to drop us a line or give us a call (503.978.0333).


Rescued Film Project Interview : Levi Bettwieser

Chances are if you’re a follower of photography news online, you’ve heard about the Rescued Film Project. Last year they made digital headlines with the discovery and development of undeveloped film from a WWII photographer, and now they’ve got their hands on one of their biggest projects yet: an estimated 1,200 rolls of undeveloped film from one photographer in the 1950s, known only as “Paul”. While RFP often does their own developing of rescued films, the size of this project compelled them to reach out to us to help with development, and we’re honored to be involved in the project. Working on this film made us curious about the whole process for Rescued Film Project, and many of our customers felt the same. We reached out to RFP and Levi Bettwieser, Founder of The Rescued Film Project, very generously answered some of our questions on the 1,200 rolls of film, RFP’s history, and his goals for the project.


About the 1,200 rolls

Blue Moon Camera: Let’s start off on the project we’re developing now. How did you come across all this film? 

Levi: I purchased the film by winning several (around 20) online auctions.

BMC: Do you have any information about the photographer and his life, other than the notes that he’s left for us?

Levi: All we know is that his name is Paul and he was a steelworker from East Chicago Indiana.

One of the developed images off of Paul's film.

One of the developed images off of Paul’s film.

BMC: Do you think the photographer possibly still alive?

Levi: We don’t believe so.  From what we understand we purchased the film from a seller that was hired by the photographer’s family.

BMC: What will happen to the film after it’s developed?

Levi: Our first step is to make the images publicly available for viewing in some kind of online gallery.  Then we hope to get in contact with the family to begin production on a documentary of some kind.

BMC: That sounds great. What are your hopes for the future of these images?

Levi: All I hope is that the images are rescued and these moments are remembered and enjoyed since Paul will never be able to see them.  How that is done be it through gallery installments, book(s), video remains to be seen.

One of the images off of Paul’s film.


About Rescued Film Project

BMC: Let’s step back for a minute. What inspired you to begin the Rescued Film Project in the first place?

Levi: As a film photographer who also processes my own work, and after noticing that many cameras at thrift stores/flea markets/antique shops still contained rolls of film, I began acquiring them to process the film out of curiosity.  After processing my first batch and seeing that a large number of the rolls had viable images, I realized that there must still be thousands of rolls out there that still contain images.

BMC: About how many people make up the Rescued Film Project?

Levi: It’s primarily just myself.  But I do have a few volunteers that help with things like social posting and obscure projects like the “Paul” film.

BMC: Where does your film generally come from?

Levi: Most of it comes from myself directly purchasing it from someone, usually in another part of the country/world.  But we do get lots of film donations.

BMC: Have you ever been able to reconnect subjects or photographers with film that you’ve rescued?

Levi: Once through our Instagram page a girl recognized her father in an image. (See below; click on “comments” for the exchange.)



BMC: Very cool. What’s your favorite rescued image (so far)?

Levi: There can’t be just one.  We’ve rescued over 18,000 images so far and I love so many for so many different reasons.

One of the rescued images from RFP’s first rescued batch of film two years ago, and still a favorite.

Thanks for talking with us, Levi!

To contribute to the saving of Paul’s film, please visit, donate to, and/or share the Indiegogo for the project. If you’re not already, you can follow the Rescued Film Project’s updates on their website, Facebook, Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr. If you know of film that you’d like to donate, please be sure to get in touch with them!


A recent rescued photo from India

A recent rescued photo from India

Five tips for your Fireworks Film Photos

Summertime brings with it long, clear, warm nights and plenty of excuses to set a giant stick of explosives on fire, run away, and photograph the cacophonous and polychromatic results. To get you started, our expert fireworks setter-offer Peter Carlson has some quick tips and tricks.


Pictured: Peter Carlson, resident pyro and fire safety officer at Blue Moon Camera. Photo by David Paulin

Pictured: Peter Carlson, resident pyro and fire safety officer at Blue Moon Camera.
Photo by David Paulin


5. Focus to infinity

This might go without saying, but fireworks are (hopefully) very far away from you and your camera. If they aren’t, please stop reading and correct this error in judgement. We’ll wait.

Now, be sure that your luminous explosions are in focus no matter where they go off by setting your lens focus to infinity and keeping it there. You don’t want to be messing with focusing in the split seconds of brief but awe-inspiring fire power.

Fireworks in the River by Peter Carlson, 7min exposure

This glorious scene captures 12 whole minutes of freedom.
Fireworks in the River by Peter Carlson, a 12min exposure


4. Stick to smaller apertures

Starting off at around f11 is a good idea. This helps sharpen some of those white-hot details and is also a good idea because you’ll want to…


3. Make a long exposure

You may have fast fingers, but there’s no way you’re gonna snap that starburst at a thirtieth of a second. Bring a tripod and let your lens take in the view for awhile. If you start at f11, pairing that with a 30 second exposure should help you capture those brilliant flashes of unbridled patriotism. But don’t stop there; experiment with longer and longer exposures to capture all the blaze and glory (in case you missed it in the caption, the above river scene was a 12 minute exposure).

Sparkler Spin by Peter Carlson

Sparkler Spin by Peter Carlson


2. Use a saturated color film

Like Ektar 100, for example. Sure, you could use a black and white if you really wanted, but then you might miss some of the kaleidoscopic shades of excited metal oxides as they burst into the air and shower down upon the world below, and what fun would that be?

Don't be fooled by this Black Cat--black is in fact the presence of ALL colors, and only with Ektar can you properly see them. Black Cat by Peter Carlson

Don’t let this Black Cat fool you – black is in fact the presence of ALL colors, and it’s only with Ektar that can you properly see them.
Black Cat by Peter Carlson



1. Bring beer

Only if you’re legally of age to drink, of course. But if you’re 21 and older, don’t miss this most important step. Trust us on this one.

Bottle rocket by Peter Carlson

Bottle rocket by Peter Carlson


Go forth and make explosions, people. Have a safe and happy 4th of July.

Don't do anything we would do. Photo by David Paulin

Don’t do anything we would do.
Photo by David Paulin

RadioLab – Sight Unseen

Your Sunday inspirational this week takes us back to RadioLab and this story about Lynsey Addario and a series of images she made of the death of an American soldier in Afghanistan. It is a poignant episode that is capable of starting a very good conversation regarding the power of photography, the capabilities of photographers to do more than just make photos – to touch and change lives, the ability of photographs to grant a form of immortality and more packed into this brief episode.

Nikon Nikonos

Nikon Nikonos V

So whether you are actually underwater, or due to this weather lately, just feel like you are underwater, go check out a Nikonos underwater camera. We recommend the Nikonos V as it has a built-in light meter and an aperture-priority exposure mode to go along with it’s full manual setting. These cameras are suprisingly multi-purpose being useful both below the seas and above. They make great hiking cameras here in Oregon. Need a self-portrait by the base of that waterfall? What better camera to pull out in the mist and the spray. Love hiking on these rainy, overcast mornings? This camera will be a steadfast companion. Want something with a quiet shutter but cannot afford a Leica? You’ll be surprised just how little noise the Nikonos V makes in operation.

One piece of advice though – mind any lenses you buy for this camera that are marked “UW”. Those lenses need to be used underwater in order to get sharp images. The three “on-land” lenses for this camera are the 28mm f2.8 LW, 35mm f2.5 W and the 80mm f 4W.

Also check out the Nikonos III. Kind of a nifty camera as well but no meter (but all mechanical shutter).

Meet the Blue Moon Crew


Whether you come in often or have never met us face to face, we thought it’d be a good idea to introduce ourselves. Meet the crew, learn what we do, and come by to say hi some day!


Erin Johnson


Where you’ll find her: Erin is most likely spotted on our scanning desk, providing expert scans of our customer’s film.

What’s in her camera bag: A Hasselblad 500 c/m, Voigtlander Bessa L, Fuji Tiara, and Fuji GW690


Arthur Ruckle


Where you’ll find him: Arthur bounces back and forth between the back and the front of house. When up front you will likely find him helping customers with a friendly face and knowledgeable word; when in the back he’s helping with our tech department to keep all our online entities running smoothly.


Sophia Diaz


Where you’ll find her: You’ll probably see Sophia helping out over the counter on your next trip in. Friendly and knowledgable, she’s a great resource for anyone with questions about film.

What she does in her off time: Sophia enjoys amateur boxing, brushing her teeth, and writing poetry. Only occasionally at the same time.

What’s in her camera bag: A Canon F1 and Holga



Mike Knight

Where you’ll find him: Mike is a long time expert in film cameras and photography. You’ll see him out on the shop floor, talking up cameras and checking out the attic relics that find their way into the shop.

What he does in his off time: Mike is often seen spending time with his awesome daughters, Kassie and Lexi.

What’s in his camera bag: Mike’s camera bag is like a magician’s hat: it has no limit in what it can hold, and there might be a few stray rabbits in there. Pretty much if it exists, it’s in Mike’s camera bag.


Junior Burdett

Photo by Jim Hair

Photo by Jim Hair

Where you’ll find him:  All over, really. Junior is often seen up front helping customers find their perfect camera or film, and even more often in the back, bundling and shipping out national orders.

What he does in his off time: Junior used to spend his off hours getting punched in the face while pursuing concert photography, but for some reason he’s decided to move on to something else. Now he spends his hours not going on Social Media, quoting Trailer Park Boys, dodging drones, or petting dogs. Updates on that front will be forthcoming.

What’s, currently, in his camera bag: A Hasselblad 500 c/m, Crown Graphic 4×5, Horizont, Olympus Stylus, Holga, and a Zero Image 2000.


Jim Hair

Jim by Jim

Where you’ll find him: Everyone knows Jim; he’s a staple of the Blue Moon Camera counter. While you’re here he will gladly let you in on all his insider’s knowledge about film, photography, and life. It’s well worth your while to give him a listen.

What he does in his off time: Jim takes no off time from photography. When not in the shop, he is out in the world turning light and happenstance into photographs and strangers into portraits.

What’s in his camera bag: Hasselblad 500 c/m, Speed Graphic

Jim’s Flickr Portfolio


Christal Angelique

Photo by Peter Carlson

Photo by Peter Carlson

Where you’ll find her: Christal is our lead color film developer. If it’s color, she develops it, and even finds the time to help out customers over the counter with all their equipment and film needs. Chances are if you’ve stopped in the shop, you’ve had the pleasure of meeting her.

What she does in her off time: Much of Christal’s time is taken up making beautiful and thoughtful black and white portraits and landscapes with a variety of cameras. When not behind a camera, she can be found in the recording studio or rehearsing with her band, Sandy Loam.

What’s in her camera bag: Hasselblad 500c/m, Canon AE1
Christal’s website portfolio


Katt Janson Merilo


Photo by Zeb Andrews

Photo by Zeb Andrews

Where you’ll see her: Online! After almost 4 years of working around the shop in various capacities, Katt now works from her new home in Washington, producing the occasional article and social media content.

What she does elsewhere: Katt sometimes writes book reviews for One Twelve Publishing’s blog, and is an occasional contributor on the Film Shooters Collective photostream and blog. In her day job, she is a high school Special Education teacher in Auburn, Washington.

What’s in her camera bag: A Canon AE1 and 50mm lens that her mother bought during her deployment in Vietnam; Holga, Zero Image 2000, and, occasionally, a 4×5 Speed Graphic

Katt’s website portfolio

David Paulin

Photo by Zeb Andrews

Photo by Zeb Andrews

Where you’ll see him: David is our color printer extraordinaire, and you will see him most days behind our beloved printing machine “Nora”. If he isn’t there, he’s likely in the darkroom or studio organizing our 8×11 sized Spy Film for MINOX cameras.

What he does in his off time: We don’t give David off time.

What’s in his camera bag: A Mamiya RB67, Mamiya C330, MINOX III, Nikomat, Holga, Zero Image 2000

David’s Flickr Portfolio


Peter Carlson


Where you’ll see him: Peter is a master darkroom printer, and to that effect we often lock him away in the darkroom to produce our true black and white prints. We let him out occasionally, though, and you’ve likely seen him at the counter or talked to him on the phone at least once.

What he does in his off time: Peter has recently completed a box set of darkroom prints from vintage negatives of nudes, titled Nudes I Never Knew. He is working on other printing projects, and is also setting up a portrait studio in his house for his photographic endeavors.

What’s in his camera bag: Currently, Rolleiflex Automat EVS, Hasselblad 500 c/m, and a couple of Holgas

Peter’s website portfolio


Faulkner Short

Photo by Jake Shivery

Photo by Jake Shivery

Where you’ll see him: Faulkner is one of our star printers, and is often seen working on our black and white and obscure film format printer, affectionately dubbed “Ray”. If he’s not there, he’s probably processing black and white film in the back, or making the staff a delicious five-star lunch in the kitchen.

What he does in his off time: Faulkner is also known as DJ Folklore. He has his own show, Chauncy Pops, airing on xrayfm on Sunday mornings and House of Sound Monday nights.

What’s in his camera bag: A Zero Image pinhole, Leica M3, Nikon F2, Instax Wide, Minox B, and others

Faulkner’s Flickr Portfolio


Zeb Andrews


Where you’ll see him: Zeb is our resident Jack-of-all-trades. When he’s not up front answering all imaginable obscure questions from photographers, he’s probably performing quality checks on our printing machines or mixing chemistry in the dark room.

What he does in his off time: If he’s awake, he has a camera in his hands. Zeb spends much of his downtime teaching for Newspace Center for Photography, and all time not accounted for out in the world with a camera.

What’s in his camera bag: A little bit of everything, including a Hasselblad 500C, Innova pinhole, Holga, and Pentacon SixTL, just to name a few.

Zeb’s Website Portfolio


Kelly Palin


Where you’ll find her: Kelly does all our books, so she’s often seen in the back working away on Excel or other complicated financial spreadsheets the rest of us can only begin to understand. She’s the one making sure we’ve crossed all our t’s and dotted all our i’s, and we would be an uncrossed, undotted mess without her.

What she does in her off time: Our resident expert in a variety of topics related to gardening and healthy eating, Kelly loves spending time in her garden. When not busy raising her garden, she is most often spending time with her daughters.

What’s in her camera bag: A calculator and portfolio of really good looking spreadsheets.


Jake Shivery


Where you’ll see him: Jake walks the floor most days, handling all your sales, consignment, and general expertise needs. He’s just the person to provide the odd piece of expert information and invaluable advice on photography at large.

What he does in his off time: Many Sunday mornings, especially in the winter months, are dedicated to large format portraiture in his back yard. Jake recently released a book of his 8×10 film photography, titled Contact.

What’s in his camera bag: An 8×10 Deardorff and MINOX III camera, loaded with Spy Film.

Jake’s Flickr Portfolio



Photo by Jim Hair

Photo by Jim Hair

Where you’ll find her: Daisy is Jake’s dog, and she is very calm, friendly, photogenic, and well trained. To the last point, she will not venture out past the black curtain, but she may poke her head out to say hello every now and then. Feel free to go give her a pet if you’d like, and she’ll love you for it.

What she does in her off time: She is often seen being incidental in the background of Jake’s portraits. When not lying just within frame, she can be found running through the park or the river, or enjoying a lazy afternoon in the backyard.

What’s in her camera bag: She has no camera bag; she’s a dog, silly.

For more photos of Daisy, click here

What’s New on the Blue Moon? (since the last blue moon)

It’s that time of the lunar cycle again. A blue moon rises on Portland tonight and to celebrate, we’d like to tell you what we’ve been up to since the last blue moon back in 2012. We’ve had a very good three years, and owe so much of that to the people reading along now. Thank you, as always, for supporting us and the Portland film community.

staff at shows

We had an Impossible visit (and are gearing up for our next in a week), Pinhole Photography Walks, many rowdy customer and staff shows (another one of which opens tomorrow), a couple Portland Art Museum brown bag lectures, an OPB Art Beat feature, an exciting monograph book from a Kickstarter venture, the first issue of our staff zine 8417, and a license to manufacture MINOX sized Spy Film.

Most importantly, though, we got to develop, print, and scan thousands of rolls of film from our customers, and put hundreds of functioning film cameras into the hands of photographic artists. It’s easy to lose track of the time when you’re doing something that cool each day.

For your enjoyment, we’ve put together some behind-the-scenes photos of what we’ve been up to.


Zeb celebrates his 10 year anniversary at Blue Moon! September, 2012

Zeb celebrates his 10 year anniversary at Blue Moon! (Photo by Zeb Andrews) September, 2012


Some of the Blue Moon crew at Jake's show at Powell's, October 2012

Some of the Blue Moon crew at Jake’s show at Powell’s. (Photo by Jason Kelley)  October 2012


Zeb and Jake at the opening of their joint show, Still Live, in Vancouver, May 2013

Zeb and Jake at the opening of their joint show, Still Live, in Vancouver. (Photo by Jason Kelley) May 2013


The biggest we've ever been! The staff continues to grow as we gain new family members. November, 2013

The current and past staff gather for a family cookout. November, 2013


The shop front in the snow, February 2014

The shop front in the snow, February 2014


On our first pinhole photography walk, April 2014

On our first pinhole photography walk, April 2014


Jake teaching the Impossible guys exposing instant Impossible 8x10 film, May 2014

Jake and the Impossible guys, Kyle and Mitch, exposing instant Impossible 8×10 film, May 2014


We're big in Japan! The Japanese magazine Popeye highlights Blue Moon Camera in its St. Johns feature, June 2014

We’re big in Japan! The Japanese magazine Popeye highlights Blue Moon Camera in its St. Johns feature, June 2014


Our OPB Art Beat feature resulted in many exciting things, including a big screen showing at Blue Sky Gallery and the cover of OPB Members' Magazine, October 2014

Our OPB Art Beat feature resulted in many exciting things, including a big screen showing at Blue Sky Gallery and the cover of OPB Members’ Magazine, October 2014


Behind the scenes filming Jake and Oliver Ogden, filming  the video for Jake's Kickstarter, November 2014

Behind the scenes filming Jake and Oliver Ogden, filming the video for Jake’s Kickstarter, November 2014


Faulkner celebrates his 10 year anniversary at Blue Moon Camera! November, 2014

Faulkner celebrates his 10 year anniversary at Blue Moon Camera! (Photo by Tom Humphrey) November, 2014


Jake’s Kickstarter is successful, resulting in a beautiful book–Contact–published by One Twelve Publishing. Video by Arthur Hitchcock. December 2014

Jake and Blue at the opening of Jake's show Contact at Newspace, April 2015

Jake and Blue at the opening of Jake’s show Contact at Newspace, April 2015


The staff publish the first issue of their own photographic zine, 8417. June, 2015

The staff publish the first issue of their own photographic zine, 8417. June, 2015


Excitement abounds as we sign our licensing deal with MINOX Germany and release Spy Film for MINOX cameras. July, 2015

Excitement abounds as we sign our licensing deal with MINOX Germany and release Spy Film for MINOX cameras. July, 2015


Thanks for the past three years, everyone; we’ll see you with another update on the next Blue Moon.

Announcing Spy Film for MINOX cameras

spy film, minox

Spy Film for Minox Cameras on sale now!

We’ve got news.

It’s really, really big news. We’ve kept it Top Secret for almost a year. At long last the time has come to declassify, and we’re ready to share with you our latest endeavor. But first: are you sitting down? Good. Were you followed? Excellent. Here we go.

Effective immediately, Blue Moon Camera and Machine has begun production of subminiature films for MINOX spy cameras. That’s right: your favorite MINOX printing, scanning, and developing lab is now your Spy Film supplier, and after the long, long wait, you can finally find the film you need to keep your clandestine photography going. And we’re not talking about one or two batches; nope, we’ll be keeping you agents supplied well into the future.

But wait, there’s more! You’ll be getting a whole array of emulsion options, all ready to fit in your tightest tuxedo pocket or smallest evening handbag with plenty of room to spare. Want a super slow, fine grain, black and white emulsion? No problem. Fast, grainy, and colorful more your style? We’ve got you covered. Whether you’re a traditionalist who likes to go big with little grain or you’re looking for the dreamlike low-fi look that only high speed film grain can deliver, you’ll find the perfect photographic companion in our selection of Spy Films.

For those of you who have been calling on us for years looking for your 8x11mm fix, you will already know the elation we feel at this announcement. But if you’ve not yet discovered the thrill of photographing with subminiature MINOX film, please follow the link below with more information about this format.

Oh, and one more thing: we have the film right now, sitting on our shelves, ready to make the trip from our shop to your door. Stop on by if you’re in town, or give us a call if you’re not (503.978.0333); our shipping department is standing by. You can also buy online on the Automat at any time, day or night.

From Portland with love,
Your friends at Blue Moon Camera and Machine

For the Press:

Down load the Spy Film Press Release (pdf)

Download the Spy Film Press Kit (zip) with Press Release, Related links, and Promotional photos


Drinking with Jake (Round Four) – Mike Bain

Next in a series in which Jake Shivery and a guest get pickled and talk photography.

Drinking with Jake and Michael 01

Mike Bain is the US Marketing and Business Development Manager for Harman Technology / Ilford Photo. He has been with Ilford for 26 years and he has been working in the photo industry for over 35 years. He keeps busy with photography, travel, walking and reading. Mike and his wife live in the beautiful Oak Cliff section of Dallas, Texas.

Who: Mike Bain – Ilford, US Management and Development
Where: Jake’s garage
When: March, 2014
What: Bulleit Rye with a bit of ice
Editor’s note: Please note that this interview was conducted in Two Thousand and Fourteen, and it’s just taken a long time to actually get it into print form. There are a variety of points raised where the time is relevant, so kindly just pretend for a second that we’re back in the salad days of early 2014. Sorry – it’s been kind of a crazy year. js

Jake: Thanks for coming to visit us in Portland.

Mike: It’s my pleasure.

JS: I understand that you enjoy beer, so I figure you might also enjoy Portland.

MB: I do like beer, as it turns out, and I really like Portland.

JS: You find us to be a good town for beer.

MB: Oh yes. I like pale ales especially, and there are many.

JS: Anything in particular?

MB: I have to say, everything I’ve tried here, I’ve really enjoyed. Just last evening, I went to a brewery downtown and had one of their pale ales. Down the street from Powell’s – that was nice.

JS: You travel a lot. You once told me that you’ve spent three weeks a month on the road for most of your career.

MB: Yeah. At least three weeks. I cover the whole country, so I move around a lot. I started about this time in ’88 and at first I just covered the Southeast as their technical rep. I moved to Dallas from Chicago, and I covered Texas, Oklahoma, over to the Carolinas and down to Florida, where I supported our salespeople.

JS: So all the way back to ’88, when it was all darkroom stuff.

MB: Oh yes, all darkroom. Back that far, we weren’t even thinking about digital process yet.

JS: You’ve been at this for a good long time, then. How do you describe your job now?

MB: I do a little of everything. I guess one of the reasons that I’m still around is because I have a bit of a technical background. These days I say that I do everything from talking to someone when they develop a roll of 35mm film to talking with people like you and big labs and then all the inventory – making sure that we have the right products in the United States.

JS: This came up earlier today when you were speaking with the rest of the staff, but what do you need the public to know about Ilford?

MB: I think that the main thing is that despite some of the bad news that people may hear about traditional photography and things like that, we are financially stable and plan on a long future. We continue to develop new products and plan on being here for quite a while. I mean, it can be a challenge, but really, everything about this industry can be a challenge.

JS: It’s interesting to note that Ilford has just released a brand new fibre paper. Just late last year. [ed: again, that’s 2013, folks]

MB: Yeah, actually two brand new ones. We’ve been producing Multigrade IV since ’93 or ’94, and since then we’ve been working on the new stock, which we’re calling Classic. It tones a little nicer than the IV paper, and has a great contrast range, everything you’ve come to expect from the IV, but even better. We’ve also introduced a cool tone version – we’ve never had a cool tone FB material before, so now we have the Warm Tone and the Classic and also the Cool Tone FB papers to offer.

IMG_7552_MGFB Range Pack Shot 1

 JS: That warm tone paper has been my favorite for the past six or seven years now. It’s all I print on; literally, everything I’ve souped in the last few years has been on that paper. I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. How old is that paper?

MB: I want to say it’s eighteen or nineteen years old. We haven’t changed anything on that, which will be important to a lot of people – we have a lot of people using that and enjoying it. That paper already tones great – it looks great – we don’t know what we could do to make it much better.

JS: As I say, I think it’s already a perfect paper. Are the new cool tone and classic papers sort of catching up to the warm tone?

MB: Well, they’re very different papers. Anyone using the warm tone paper will notice that it’s much slower – it’s a totally different emulsion. And then the toning – the warm tone paper has a much easier time taking toners.

JS: And how about the Fine Art paper – where does that fit in with the line?

MB: It’s certainly a niche product. We’ve wanted to make it for a while, but we had difficulty finding the substrate that could withstand being in solutions for a long time without falling apart. So Hahnemühle now provides us with that base, and we coat it with a very similar emulsion to what’s on the FB warm tone paper. So if you’ve printed on the warm tone paper, you can easily transfer over the same techniques to printing on the Fine Art material.

JS: I’ve found that to be exactly true. I’ve pulled the same neg on both the warm tone paper and the Fine Art paper and managed to lose track of which was which while they were in the trays. When they dry down, though, they look much, much different.

MB: It’s not quite the same DMAX, and then there’s the surface, but it has a nice look all its own.

JS: I find it to be a great “limited edition” paper, and by that I mean that I like to use it when my focus is just a hair off. The textured surface does a great job of disguising that, while still giving me a beautiful fibre print.

MB: That’s funny, I recently spoke with someone doing the same thing. They were printing their grandparents’ negatives, and wanted fibre paper, but some of the negs weren’t exactly sharp – I suggested that the Fine Art 300 would be a good way to go, and they were happy with the results. We certainly don’t sell as much of it as the other papers – like I say, it’s a niche product – but I like the way it fills out the lineup. People had been asking us for a textured paper for years, and we’re pleased to have an offering. And it has its own following.

JS: Yeah, it’s good stuff. Anything you want to say about RC papers?

MB: Well, the truth is that we’ve certainly seen a decline in RC paper sales from many years ago. We were a much bigger company twenty years ago, of course, but over the last three or four years the market really seems to have stabilized. There is a slight decline in RC paper sales – Fibre is holding its own, and film is good – very stable – we’re selling lots of sheet film – so of all of our products, RC is the one that’s shown the most decline. It’s more or less stable, lately, but darkroom folks really seem to be gravitating to the FB papers.

JS: Right, well, people that are taking the trouble to go in the darkroom at all are skipping over the RC step. It no longer really seems that much “faster”.

Alfred Harman 3

MB: Exactly. That’s what we think. People like the unique look of the fibre. I still tell people that fibre is almost always going to be the longest lasting print in the room. And that look, I mean nothing else looks like that. You can put it side by side with even the most beautiful inkjet print, and fibre will still hold its own. There’s just something about the way it looks and the way it feels.

JS: And it’s the only thing which adheres to the HABS criteria for archivability.

MB: Yes, I’ve spoken with several people about that, people who need to fulfill the needs for archives. It’s great that we still have a product which can be tested for such long term stability.

JS: Yeah, we run the lab to HABS criteria – it’s nice that they’ve now done away with the single weight and the graded requirements.

MB: We do still have a limited amount of graded paper in grades two and three that we offer. When I first started you could get all the grades, one through five, in all kinds of sizes. The multigrade material has really taken over since then, though we are continuing to maintain a bit of the graded stocks for folks who need it. It’s a shame to lose any of the materials, but we like to think we have something for just about everybody these days. And we’re putting a lot of emphasis on film stocks, as well.

JS: And you do have a very thorough selection of film available. What’s the most recent film that Ilford has released?

MB: SFX – the extended red film. Use the dark red filters, and you can get infrared-type results without the handling issues that you have with true infrared films. And then, if you shoot it with no filter, it’s also a very pretty general use 200 speed film. That’s nice, since you can mix both results on the same roll of film.

JS: What’s your most popular film these days?

MB: Hands down, HP5+, 35mm, 36 exposures.

JS: In the store, it always seems like we’re selling more 120 and sheet film, but Ilford at large continues to sell more 35mm?

MB: 35 is big, but there’s no question that 120 film and sheet film have really done the best over the last several years, looking at the uptick in sales. I think that there are a lot reasons for that – there are a lot of really great 120 cameras used on the market, for starters. People may have wanted these cameras for a long time, and now the prices are down where they can afford them. And the plastic cameras, the toy cameras – we’ve really benefited from that quite a bit. 35 still defines the student market though – we do very well with the 35 films bundled with the RC paper. I’m pretty fortunate in my job because I get to meet a lot of different photographers and a lot of people doing really interesting work. I meet photojournalists who have to take digital for their work, but they tell me that they still shoot film for themselves. When they’re doing their own projects, they shoot all film – and of course, a lot of those folks are shooting 35.

JS: We hear the same thing, pretty constantly. Digital for work, film for art.

MB: Exactly. It’s funny, when it’s important, the same people want to do it on film.

JS: Do you have any products that you don’t think people know enough about?

MB: Well, we mentioned SFX, and I do feel that it gets underrepresented a little bit. We’d like more people to know about the Fine Art paper – if more people saw it, then I think it would become much more popular. It’s a nice option – it’s good to have prints that can look so very different.

JS: OK, so Ilford recently got out of the color material market altogether, which has been causing quite a bit of gossip. How do you wish to describe this? What went bankrupt and what is still around?

MB: Well, when I got started, there was a company called Ilford Limited. This was an umbrella company for all the worldwide operations – we had manufacturing plants, most importantly in Switzerland and the UK, and at one time also in France. Then there were selling companies, like Ilford US, and Ilford Germany, etc. In the ’90s, as digital really took off, we started making a lot of inkjet products. We were doing it from the beginning and got better and better at it. But the fact is that we were a bit overwhelmed by it and the transition was abrupt and difficult for everybody in the industry. So, we were this big organization, centered in the UK, and we went into some debt trying to make the transition to digital. During receivership they started selling off bits of the company, piece by piece. Right about nine years ago – almost exactly – receivers were handling all of the assets. At that time, the Swiss company was sold off to a Japanese company and my boss, Steven Brierley, along with five of his colleagues, went to the receivers and said they wanted to buy the UK black and white business. At that time, we knew that black and white was still solvent, and it was all of the other interests which were dragging it down. We knew we had a solid business in black and white materials, if it would be allowed to continue. So they bought out the black and white division, and renamed it “Harman Technology”. That’s the legacy name – the guy who started Ilford in the 1870s was named Alfred Harman. We have the Ilford BW brand name for use in perpetuity, but only on black and white products. The company in Switzerland took over all the Ilford color products, including the beautiful Ilfochrome materials. They made this, plus all of the inkjet products, and all the RA-4 color printing products, and the Ilfotrans and so forth. Basically, Switzerland got all the color, and the UK got all of the black and white. Recently, you may have heard news about Ilford Switzerland’s bankruptcy. The Swiss color company has been through some tough times and is now in receivership. This has no impact on us in the UK, since we are separate businesses altogether. That’s what we want people to know. It’s unfortunate about what’s happening in Switzerland, but it’s a separate entity and we’re not affected by it.

Directors Photos 033

 JS: So the Ilford Black and White company is stable for the long term?

MB: Oh, yes. I have to say, we run a pretty tight ship. We’re streamlined, and very conservative in our approach. We’re solvent, secure and looking to the future.

JS: You have a very long term lease on the film manufacturing plant.

MB: Yeah, it’s twenty years or something like that. We have the facilities to make everything we need to, plus a lot of room to grow when the need arises. We’re always looking at where a new product might fit in.


JS: So, how about an industry overview from you, as a person, and from you, as the Ilford rep?

MB: Well, obviously, it’s challenging. But when I look around, and I mean, it’s easy in hindsight, but from my point of view, the people who have remained, or become, successful, are the ones who focused on their niche markets. We used to have an industry of people who did a lot of everything, and I think that became part of the problem. The ones who are surviving are the ones who are dedicating themselves one way or the other to smaller segments of the business.There used to be a lot of commercial labs who would order rolls and rolls of paper and the big blue barrels full of chemistry, and most of that business is gone. There is still a little of that work, but there are fewer labs, and the ones who keep going are the ones who really show the dedication to specific services. The art market has always been very important to us, and is even more important now. And education, of course – we still visit as many schools as possible. It’s always very reassuring to me when I visit schools and find that people still think teaching traditional photography is important. The skills make better photographers, ultimately, whether they end up shooting digital or film.

JS: We deal with this all day, every day. It seems like the students want to take darkroom classes, and the teachers want to teach darkroom classes, but there remains this resistance from above – there’s a philosophy among the school boards and the PTAs and so forth that we shouldn’t be teaching this “dead field”. Care to comment?

Drinking with Jake and Michael 03

 MB: I’ve seen that, too, and I’ve heard a lot of different things. Sometimes it’s as simple as a school administrator who has gotten their first digital camera and has become a convert. So now the instructors have to do the job of selling to their own administrations. They have to be the ones to throw in on why the darkroom is important, why it matters, why it’s still completely valid. Sometimes, in cities where the rents are high, it’s as simple as the darkroom taking up too much space – I hear that more than you want to know about. But what I do hear consistently is that when there’s a class for traditional darkroom, it fills. I’ve never had an instructor tell me that they can’t fill a darkroom class. That’s very reassuring. Young people find it fascinating – it’s so different from every other aspect of their lives. I always love it when I meet a twenty year old who shows me beautiful silver prints.

JS: This is something we say all the time. Every kid’s got a computer in the kitchen, but nobody has a darkroom at home anymore. I see it as the goal of the school to be providing facilities that aren’t otherwise available, and giving the kids a chance to learn new skills. My shorthand is that we don’t give up all the pianos just because we have computers that can do the same thing. That seems to resonate with a lot of parents and administrators, when I can get them to think about it like that. Furthermore, we’re on the cusp of giving up all the metal shops and wood shops, and replacing them all with 3D printers. I mean, I appreciate the usefulness of computers, but I think that one of the underlying missions of educational institutions is to provide exposure to the different options out there.

MB: It’s not all bad, though, there is still quite a bit of support from educators. I’ll be attending the SPE conference, and that’s a great place to meet instructors from all over the country, many of whom are fighting for the same thing. I mean, just from a purely dollars-and-cents point of view, it’s pretty easy to justify the teaching of traditional photography. Enlargers will last twenty years, and it’s easy to deal with the materials. On the flip side, I hear about schools who have people whose whole job is to keep up on the licenses for the software. None of that in the darkroom.

JS: Right. Let’s spend time teaching the craft instead of keeping up on the software. The illusion of work, the illusion of learning, is no substitute for actually learning how to get things done.

MB: Exactly. You know, the history is interesting – I’ve seen old photographs from Ilford of their factory workers with tea kettles, pouring emulsion onto the glass plates. We’ve come a long way, but the technology is still basically the same.

JS: Yes. And it’s important that someone – you guys – will be keeping this technology available in the future. We know it can be a struggle. How’s the global market?

MB: Well, certainly the US is the biggest market. Europe is big, but all of our worldwide distributors are busy. There’s a big art scene in Latin America; we don’t quite have the reach down there that we would like, but the market exists. We have a good presence in Japan. Overall, it’s the US and western Europe, and the UK.

JS: What about the competition?

MB: Well, it’s the names we all know – Kodak and Fuji. And some players in eastern Europe.

JS: Who else is still active in Europe?

MB: Foma, and Bergger. Forte’s been closed for a while. There’s some activity in Agfaphoto and Ferrania. We see a little of the Oriental papers out there. We used to be the little guy, but now Ilford’s seen as the big guy. In reality, we’re a pretty small company, but we are in a growth mode.

JS: So, two big companies, then you guys, and a bunch of smaller players.

MB: Kodak has come out of the other side and are now aggressively selling films again; we’re watching this closely, of course. We’ll see how it goes for them. It’s a relatively new development.

JS: And, well, we still need Fuji, because you guys aren’t making an instant product.

MB: No – it came up when Polaroid got out of the business, and I know that there were some talks about us taking over that product line, but moving all of the equipment to the UK and dealing with the setup seemed a bit outside of our scope.

JS: So, whither the future for Ilford? The art market, of course.

MB: Well, of course, plus the education market. We think that people will be shooting film for a long, long time. There are a lot of reasons for that – the fine equipment, the ability to see the images in twenty years. I mean, everybody’s got a twenty year old floppy disk with data on it, and I challenge you to go open one and make use of it. Film doesn’t have that problem, and never will. It stores a tremendous amount of information, and we’ll be able to look at it for years to come.

JS: So, since you have the whole US territory, what’s your favorite US market?

MB: Why, Portland of course. No, really, there’s nothing like Portland. I spend a lot of time in New York – there’s so much photography there. Any of the big cities, really, there’s a lot to see. I get to see a lot of really good exhibits, and there’s so much tremendously good work going on.

JS: Let’s speak a little more about you. What did you do before Ilford?

MB: I studied photography in school and then I worked in and eventually owned a photo lab where we made Ilforchromes and did some black and white processing. That was in Austin years ago, in the 80s. I was in the lab business in Chicago, and then I was offered the job at Ilford – I had roots in Texas, and that’s where the job was, so it seemed like a natural fit. I’ve been in Dallas twenty six years – I could work anywhere, but that’s where I’ve built my life. I like it a lot. Seems like a long time when you say it out loud.

JS: And how about your personal photography?


 MB: Well, I still love to shoot. I love film, and I’ve always made photos – I’ve shot since I was a teenager. I thought I would be getting into newspaper stuff, and kind of learned from other people, plus community college and then four year college. I enjoy night photography, and pinhole, documentary style – that’s what I like to shoot and what I like to see. A lot of twin lens work.

JS: And what’s your rig? What kind of camera do you use?

MB: Rollei twin lens. Pretty simple, lightweight, small enough. I do have a Hasselblad, but it never seems to come out anymore, to be honest. At Ilford, we have our own pinhole cameras, the Obscura and the Titan, so I use those quite a bit. They’re a good, simple way to shoot 4×5. I also enjoy the Zero Image – I carry around a 6×6 – very lightweight and easy to deal with. Going back to what we were talking about before, I rarely shoot much 35mm; these days, it’s primarily 120. With all this, I still really like to look at photography. I enjoy galleries, and being able to get out and look at work. You have a pretty strong gallery scene here in Portland, yes?

JS: Oh, yes. There’s a lot of action in town. More than we can attend, really. You should schedule one of your trips for a First Thursday or First Friday – we can show you around a bit.

MB: Good idea. I find it very encouraging. I guess the big message is that film photography is alive and well. While it’s smaller than it was twenty years ago, it’s still very vibrant and important. And it will be for a long time to come. Also, people should print. That’s what’s important about the darkroom – it means that people are making physical prints. I look around at the internet and phones and all, but there’s nothing like holding a beautiful print, or having one hanging on the wall – nothing like it.


 JS: Photography has changed a lot since you started.

MB: Oh, yeah. A lot. Twenty years ago, I didn’t have the imagination to see where all this was going. The way I look at it now, it’s just that we have more tools. The more tools that an artist has, the better it is, but you don’t want to throw away the old tools just because you get some new ones.

JS: So, when you were in the lab business twenty years ago, I’m sure you had the old curmudgeons, the same as I did – folks to learn stuff from, and they probably complained a lot. So, back in the day, what were your curmudgeons pissed off about?

MB: Oh, the same as now. All about format. 35 was introduced so many years ago, but you would’ve thought that it was some new thing. The old timers that I used to talk to still shot their Graflexes, and stood by the quality of their sheet film. Also the same as today is the materials – even then we were losing a lot of the historic papers, the single weight fibres and so forth, and that’s always been an item of contention. We have lost a lot of really beautiful papers. The old Agfa Portriga was a beautiful paper, but even it changed – it certainly wasn’t the same paper at the end as when it started. But it’s nostalgia, really, and romance. I mean, I loved a lot of the old papers, but I wouldn’t trade them for the modern papers that we have today. The DMAXs are nice, the consistency is good, the contrast is good. I have a lot of old 70s papers, and they still look good; it would be nice if we still had a big enough market to have that kind of variety, but I’m proud of Ilford for keeping a good selection of materials available.


 JS: Yes, thank you. Keeping three fibres and an RC, all in different surfaces, plus the Fine Art, is still a pretty good selection. And in a lot of sizes.

MB: We don’t make some of the large sizes anymore, but we are selling big FB paper in rolls – we offer a 50″ roll of fibre that does very well.

JS: You sell a 50″ roll of fibre?

MB: You’re darn right we do. Quite a bit of it.

JS: Who’s using it?

MB: Certain edition printers. In the past few years, in galleries especially, I’ve seen big prints becoming more and more important. Another product line that we make which is important, and it’s another niche but still important, are fibre and RC papers for hybrid printers. Laser digital enlargers use these, so we have a good line of paper that will make good darkroom silver prints from digital files. It’s just one more thing we’ve done to make our products available to the most number of people.


 JS: I’m always fascinated by people’s darkrooms. You’ve been around a lot – what’s the best darkroom you’ve ever been in?

MB: Well, it’s interesting about darkrooms. I once saw someone speak about darkrooms, and his point was that darkrooms always tell stories about who is working inside them. And his other point – gosh, I wish I could remember his name – his other point was that the best darkroom is the one where you know where everything is. I mean, I love my darkroom at home, because I’m the only one who uses it – everything is always right where it should be. I don’t know if I could pick out a favorite, but I have been to some really fantastic darkrooms. There is a school in Philadelphia that recently built a new facility and I was stunned at how beautiful and well-thought-out it is. I went to one in San Diego – the city college there and the facilities were incredible. Then there’s Columbia in Chicago – they have quite a view. When you’re out there flattening the prints you’ve just made in the darkroom, the window in the workroom looks out over Lake Michigan and Michigan Avenue. That was pretty spectacular. We have a website called local darkrooms dot com – we’re using to try and help people connect to darkrooms. There are a lot of people shooting film who no longer have access to darkrooms so this website is a clearinghouse for places where you can print. If you’re traveling, you can see if there’s a rental available, or sometimes, people will even invite you into their personal darkrooms. It also has places where people are teaching traditional photo workshops and things like that. Anything we can do to help sustain the community. Globally and locally.

JS: OK, so I want to build a brand new darkroom, from scratch. What should I be thinking about?

MB: Well, for me space is a big one. I’ve seen some small darkrooms that work well, but it’s not ideal. I mean, that’s how I started, probably like you – with the table over the tub and the enlarger on the toilet, but if you can have the space, that’s the best. I never even had a real darkroom sink until I redid my darkroom about ten years ago, and I love that sink. It’s really beautiful and it makes all the difference. Just having a six foot sink, if you can have that, it’s the best thing.

JS: So you built a brand new darkroom ten years ago? Right when digital was really starting to kick?

MB: Yeah, well, I hope I have a lot of printing time left in me, I mean, I hope I’m printing in twenty five years. Probably like everybody else, I have a lot of negatives that I’ve never printed. I see my retirement as being me looking through a lot of the old stuff and playing catch-up. Plus, there’s just something about being in the darkroom. It’s somewhat intangible, but that’s what I love about it. You’re alone, you have time to think, you’re doing something with your hands. You don’t feel the same way when you have a beautiful print that came off the inkjet printer.


 JS: Yeah, we have that discussion a lot – the difference between handmade and mass-produced, and it rankles the inkjet printer guys. Their point is “Well, I’m touching it, isn’t that handmade?” And my point is that if you can push a button and make ten of them, then it’s mass-produced. It’s really hard – effectively impossible, really – to make identical prints in the darkroom.

MB: Well, when we were kids and coming up, I mean, we never thought about computers being able to do it for us, right? Darkroom is the craft I came up with and I want to stick with it. It’s fascinating to meet someone who is just now in college – eighteen or nineteen years old – who’s never known not having a computer in the house. It seems to me like a lot of them really take to being in the darkroom and it feels like they’re making something. It’s like making something in a workshop. There is something about getting your hands wet.

Drinking with Jake and Michael 02

 JS: That’s a great point to end on. Anything else you’d like to address?

MB: We’ve covered a lot, right? Listen, when you asked earlier if there’s anything that I want people to know, it’s pretty simple: there’s still a lot of film being made, there’s still a lot of film being shot, and Ilford has a very long-term plan for the future. Thanks for having me, Jake – this was fun.

JS: I really enjoyed it, Mike. We’ll hope to see you again soon. Thank you, and good night.



Happy Toy Camera day! We don’t know about you, but here at Blue Moon Camera and Machine, we’re major Holgamaniacs. Need proof? Just check out some of what we get up to off hours with our plastic cameras.


Photo by Peter Carlson

Photo by Peter Carlson


Photo by Zeb Andrews

Photo by Zeb Andrews

Photo by David Paulin

Photo by David Paulin


Photo by Katt Janson

Photo by Katt Janson


Photo by Nick Burdett

Photo by Nick Burdett

Photo by Sarah Taft

Photo by Sarah Taft


Photo by Peter Carlson

Photo by Peter Carlson


Photo by Katt Janson

Photo by Katt Janson


Photo by Sarah Taft

Photo by Sarah Taft


Photo by Zeb Andrews

Photo by Zeb Andrews


Photo by David Paulin

Photo by David Paulin


What can we say? We love our toy cameras, and we think you should, too. So grab your toy camera, get out there, and get photographing.


Thank you and godspeed.

An Impossible Party


This week we were lucky enough to get a visit from Impossible’s SilverShade Airstream tour. In true Blue Moon Camera and Machine fashion, we celebrated this the only way we knew how: by throwing a big party. We stayed open late, ordered a keg (or two), and photographed all the Impossible film we could get our hands on. Below is the spoils of our partying, including super exciting Jake Shivery 8×10 instant prints. Try to contain your excitement, and read on.


Mitch and Kyle: our Impossible visitors. Photo by Jake Shivery

Mitch and Kyle: our Impossible visitors. Photo by Jake Shivery


Photo by David Paulin

Photo by David Paulin


The van arrives. Photo by David Paulin

The van arrives. Photo by David Paulin


Photo by Peter Carlson

Photo by Peter Carlson


Jake IPsmall

Phot by Peter Carlson


Photo by Peter Carlson

Photo by Peter Carlson


Photo by Peter Carlson

Photo by Peter Carlson


Jake gets set up for some 8x10 work. Photo by David Paulin

Jake gets set up for some 8×10 work. Photo by David Paulin


Francis by Jake

Francis by Jake



Jake by Francis

Jake by Francis



Photo by Gary Quay

Photo by Gary Quay



Photo by Jake Shivery

Photo by Jake Shivery


Photo by Jake Shivery

Photo by Jake Shivery


Photo by Jake Shivery

Photo by Jake Shivery


Photo by Jake Shivery

Photo by Jake Shivery



Photo by Jake Shivery

Photo by Zeb Andrews



Photo by Jake Shivery

Photo by Jake Shivery


Photo by Jake Shivery

Photo by Jake Shivery


Photo by Jake Shivery

Photo by Jake Shivery


Thanks guys, and goodnight!  Photo by David Paulin

Thanks guys, and goodnight! Photo by David Paulin


Drinking with Jake (Round Three) – Ray Bidegain

Next in a series in which Jake Shivery and a guest get pickled and talk photography.


Ray Bidegain is an artist and an educator. He is an accomplished platinum printer whose work has been collected internationally for two decades. He lives with his wife Kathleen and their two daughters, Abigail and Emogene in St. Johns, right around the corner from Jake. Jake’s colleague Sarah Taft also joins the fray.


Who: Ray Bidegain, Jake, and Sarah Taft
Where: Around Jake’s fireplace
When: February, 2014
What: Bulleit 10 year (which was a gift)

Jake: Well, Ray, you want to start with business or art?

Ray: Or the business of art?

JS: I want to talk about a lot of different stuff – art, business, showing, the museum – where would you like to start? You want to get going with the softball stuff?

RB: Oh, yeah, let’s get started with something easy. You want to go right to the Photo Council?

JS: Well, no. I changed my mind. I want to start with the lifestyle stuff. I want to start by saying: “Ray, you’re my hero.”

RB: Oh, that’s nice.

JS: And the reason that you’re my hero is because you print every day. I remember that you spoke about it during your museum speech – that you work in the darkroom every single day. And that’s what I’m talking about – that’s why you’re my hero – because it’s not a hobby, it’s a full-on lifestyle. So, let’s talk about that.

RB: So, I spend my time between being the primary caregiver for my children and making my work. And this means photographing sometimes, and processing film sometimes and it does include printing every day. I often have prints on order, so I have prints to make for people who are collecting them. And on days when I don’t have anything new to print, and I don’t have any orders to fill, then those are the days when I go back through old negatives which I may have previously ignored.


JS: So, how much of your time is old stuff and how much is new stuff?

RB: Let’s see. For about four months after my birthday, I’m printing orders from my big sale. Any time I have a new negative that I’m excited about, I always find the time to squeeze it in. I guess it’s not really too often any more that I’m digging back very far. Part of this has taught me that I don’t always process film and print negatives right away. I think they need to sort of ripen.

JS: So, are you running out of old negatives? I mean, if you print every day, how long before you have exhausted the catalogue of old work?

RB: Well, when I’m working, I only make about ten prints a day. I don’t make that many because I’m a platinum printer. It takes a while.

JS: You do understand that that’s a lot, right? I mean, five to ten prints a day, particularly in platinum is a lot of printing.

RB: I guess it could seem like it. It’s a matter of perspective. In regards to old negatives, let’s just say that I’m not going to run out.

JS: Really? So, how often do you shoot these days?

RB: Well, that goes in cycles. Sometimes I’ll get frustrated and go out and shoot several times a month. Sometimes I go months on end without shooting at all. I tend to run into the same old difficulties that all the landscape photographers do. And when I run into that, then I switch back and start photographing people again.


JS: Are you doing commission work or are you really just shooting for yourself?

RB: I almost never do commission work. I’ve only done one commission work this year; they always leave me wishing I had done something else. There was a time when I did nothing but commissions, but that ended about fifteen years ago.

JS: Well, that’s been a long time that you’ve making art for art’s sake.

RB: It has. Since I turned forty, really.

JS: You’re not fifty five.

RB: Fifty four. Almost fifteen years ago, and I decided that it was time that I started making pictures that I wanted to see on my own wall.

JS: And how’s that going?

RB: Sometimes good and sometimes…. Well, sometimes I spend a lot of time wondering what it all means. What we’re all facing now, especially, is that even though I spend a lot of time interacting with collectors and making prints, it’s still just not enough. The opportunities are not what they once were. Chances for exhibitions are fewer, the exhibitions are smaller, and the internet just doesn’t do it for me.

JS: Would you like to define “enough”?

RB: I struggle to know if this is because I was a commercial photographer for so long. These days, everything I do is for me, but I still need an interaction with an audience in order to understand my own work. Without that, it’s not enough.

JS: OK, don’t let me lose the thread about your birthday sale. Let’s speak a bit about that, but let’s do it last in process. Will you please describe your process all the way through to selling? Let’s start with the camera – what do you shoot?

RB: So, I shoot a Calumet 8×10 and these days I have a 4×5 Ebony camera. I am a person who has had a lot of different cameras, but I always have those two formats.

JS: So, you’re all sheet?

RB: I shoot all sheet. Well, now I do. I’ve shot a lot of roll film of course, but now I’m all sheet. I often have an internal struggle about print size. I love small prints, I love small 4×5 prints, but sometimes I need the bigger image.

maple leaf hand

JS: So, you’re always contact printing?

RB: I always contact print. I haven’t used my enlarger in ten years. This has a lot to do with the platinum – I can do a lot of different alternate processes, but my primary medium is platinum printing, so yes, contact printing. I’m capable of making an enlarged digital negative, but I just don’t think that there’s much love in a digital negative. I mean, they look fine. But they don’t look the same. I’m spoiled, I guess, by the look of a contact print from a film negative.

Ultimately, I’m spoiled by objects. The object is super important to me. It’s the texture of the paper, it’s the color of the paper – all of that beauty tied up into one is what means everything to me. A lot of people say that it’s the image that counts, but for me it’s the object which counts. The object is everything. And how the object gets made is everything to me, too.

JS: Well, I disagree. And I think you disagree, too. Certainly the image counts.

RB: It does, it does. Nobody is interested in an uninteresting image, no matter how nice the execution. The image is of critical importance. But for me, the object counts as much. I’m not happy with it on the internet.

JS: But that’s now how everyone looks at photography.

RB: Right, and that’s a big part of my current dilemma. I’m not sure what that means. The audience is hundreds of times bigger than it is in real life.

JS: And how big is your internet audience?

RB: I’m not sure I really know. Well, I’ve had five hundred thousand page views on Flickr.

JS: And how big is your human audience?

RB: I have about 150 steady collectors. I have no idea how many people came to my last exhibition. My last exhibition was in 2012 and I don’t have one coming up in the foreseeable future.

JS: That was Newspace? That seems like a long time ago.

RB: And I have no idea how many people saw it. I mean, you never really know that.

JS: Well, it seems the internet is a boon in its own way, just in terms of exposure. Is it making you money? Are you selling?

RB: Well, yeah. I sell a lot over the internet.

JS: OK, hang on. We’re running far afield, and I don’t want to lose track of the process conversation. So, you have your cameras, and you’re making platinum contact prints and then what? You want to put stuff on the internet? You want to put stuff in a gallery? You want to do… both?

RB: I used to feel that my goal was to have a gallery show. But they’re difficult arrangements. They’re expensive and hard to procure and so, currently, I get images up on Flickr and my website pretty quickly, but I still strive to get them into somebody’s hands. One of the important things for me is seeing my work up on people’s walls.

I got an email from a person in Japan with a jpeg attached – a simple photo of this person’s hallway, and hanging in that hallway is a little 4×5 platinum print of mine. And the thing that’s exciting for me about that, is not only that it’s so far away, but that it’s up, that it’s a part of this person’s daily life.
I do get emails and letters from people mentioning that my work is up in their homes. And for me, that’s worth much more than the money that they paid for it. I mean, I need the money to live, and that’s important, too – but having them up in people’s homes, to me, well that’s exciting. That’s kind of forever. It’s a little like having your pictures at the art museum. Cause that’s forever for sure.


JS: Let’s go there. You recently sold some more work to the museum.

RB: Yes, after the 2012 Newspace show, Julia Dolan suggested that she’d like to have some of them for the collection. She selected eight prints and I found some patrons to buy them and donate them in their own names, and so now I feel like I have a legacy at the Portland Art Museum.

JS: And you do. Eight prints is a lot. Dr. Dolan says that a good representation, especially for a living, local photographer is three. And you have eight.

RB: Plus, I already had one, so that’s nine. And you know, similar to the photo from the person in Japan, that’s what really helps me go on making work. Making more and more work. It feels really good, and I’m a feeling-driven guy.

Sarah: Because this is something that you created for yourself, but which many other people can also enjoy.

RB: Right. And this was the point of shifting over from being a commercial photographer. I feel like people who work on commission should get paid the most, because it’s the least rewarding in some ways. What’s the most rewarding is to make photographs of your own choosing and have those go out and be enjoyed in the world. And so I’m very grateful and feel very lucky to have anything at all in the museum collection, much less nine.

JS: And let’s stick with the museum a minute. Now you’re the president of the Photo Council.

RB: Yes, OK, that started five years ago when I became president of the Portland Photographers’ Forum board – this is a group of photographers in Portland that has been gathering for thirty years or so to share their own work and to hear photographers speak and so forth. And five years ago, when I became the president of PPF, I was also part of the museum Photo Council with some small notion of joining that board. I figured that the PPF experience would be a good way to see if I could be of some more use to the Photo Council.

The Photo Council has been an exciting time for me. It’s a good way to learn about, and become more compassionate about, the way that museums work. I think that previously I had the belief that a lot of people have – that because of what it costs to go to the museum, the museum had plenty of money and resources to do whatever they please. But the truth is that it doesn’t really work that way, and there is a large and diverse and necessary group of people required to keep expanding the collections.

JS: So, here’s your chance for a full-on Photo Council pitch, Mr. President.

RB: I joined the board of the Photo Council because I feel compelled to help the museum raise funds for acquisitions. And I think this is the whole point – it’s super important that the museum continues to grow its collection. And I think, from an educational perspective, any photographer interested in a better understanding of not only their own work but also the history of photography would do well to join up and see what we’re up to.

JS: I like it because it gets you close to the art.

RB: And that, too. You get to go, through membership, and you get to attend private tours of the exhibitions with Dr. Dolan, and I guarantee that if you do that, you will learn something that you did not know before. About the art on display, and about photography in general – it becomes more interesting, and more in context. The history of photography is much more complex than most people think.

So, it’s a hundred dollars a year. You get to attend a handful of activities and events, and you get a great behind the scenes tour of the photography exhibitions. We have one hundred and twenty members, and we have a good time.

JS: And we get to vote.

RB: Right. Every year, we do a meeting where we help decide which prints come into the collection. Julia brings in her selections, and members have input about how the funds are spent. Ultimately, it helps for a deeper understanding. Of the work, of the history, and of the curatorial process.


JS: OK, I don’t want to lose track of the birthday sales. That’s been very important for you.

RB: Yes. So, when I turned fifty, I used my website to host a one day sale of my images where every image in my catalog was fifty dollars. I sent out a notice to my mailing list. And the first year, I sold about a hundred. And it was excellent, because it meant that I had a chunk of money that I wouldn’t usually have and also, I had a job. For the next couple of months, I made prints and mailed them out. My clients received prints that they didn’t have before, and I had money to live on. So that became a regular thing, and every year it’s gone better and better, and this last year, when I turned fifty four, I sold two hundred and one pictures for fifty four dollars each.

For me, this is how I like to market. I like having my pictures out in the world. The money is nice, but now, really, I have two hundred pictures spread out over 125 people from my birthday sales. A lot of these people are other photographers who were not art collectors. But now they are. They have the experience of what it’s like to buy someone else’s work and own it.

I had this experience in Seattle – a gallerist named Marita Holdaway at the Benham gallery said this: anyone who wants to sell art should make a point of getting out and buying art. So that they know how it feels.

From that day forward, I have always made a point of buying pictures. It’s an interesting feeling and maybe not what you expect. But if you want to sell, you should also want to buy. It’s a discretionary thing – it’s not like buying a car or something – I mean, you don’t have to do it, but what better thing to buy than original artwork? I mean, what else are you going to spend your money on? Posters? There is a lot of great original artwork out there at affordable prices.

JS: And who wants posters? Especially in Portland. There is so much art out there.

RB: And a lot of it is so affordable.

JS: Good segue. Let’s talk about pricing. How do you view the current fine art photographic market?

RB: I think that most emerging photographers price themselves completely out of the market. I took a different route and would always prefer to sell more prints for less money, rather then pursue big edition schemes that would never be realised. First, I want my artwork to be affordable, but also, I want to sell it. I want to be making and selling prints. I don’t want to be sitting around waiting for one to sell. And I always figured that I could sell them at a price where I would be busy, and if it ever got so that one day I was too busy to keep up, well then they would cost more.

And I think that if more artists would treat their career as a job, they would be more successful. Compare it to what people will pay you to make art – there’s no way you can make as much money printing for other people as what you can make in your own basement, drinking coffee and listening to music, maybe or maybe not dressed, making your own pictures for sale. And I get to go down every morning and make prints from my own negatives that I really like. If I was working a job, and a good job, where I could make a couple hundred dollars a day, that’s what I compare that to making my own. If I make ten a day, then I just have to sell them for twenty dollars each, and I’m breaking even.

And I’m not advocating selling art for twenty dollars; I’m just pointing out that selling pictures on my birthday for fifty dollars a piece is not hurting me.

So I’m making all this work, and I’m trying to get it out there, and this leads to showing. This has something to do with you, Jake, come to think of it. I approached Chris Bennett about us having a joint exhibition.

JS: I can’t believe you’re bringing this up.

RB: Well, I feel bad about it, but there’s a point. I approached Chris about us having a two-man show and he said – “Well, how about just you?” and I took it and had a large exhibition.

JS: Because you and Chris Bennett both hate me.

RB: No, no, no. My point is that being able to print every day means I have a lot of work, which led to the Newspace show which led to sales and eventually to the museum collection.ray_showcardJS: And that was our second attempt at a two-man show. I don’t want to lose track of that, but for now I want to keep talking about pricing.

RB: I try to think of selling art as any other retail business would. Which means that if you’re hanging your pictures on the wall for $400 and they’re not selling, then think of yourself as Macy’s and start to mark it down.

I take a lot of heat for this.

JS: I do, too. “Why are you selling everything so cheap, Jake?” To which I respond: “Oh yeah, well, how many do you want?”

RB: Right. Right. Exactly. They say “Well, you don’t value your own work.” and I think well, that’s not true at all. I value it plenty. I’m just trying to be realistic. If you’re talking about someone who prices their stuff really high, then you’re probably talking about someone who doesn’t need the money from selling. And I do.

JS: Or, there’s an alternate school of thought with selling much fewer pieces at much higher prices, and keeping the perceived value very high. But I agree with you here, because the guy holding out for one at a thousand dollars instead of selling ten for one hundred dollars does not have the ten pictures out there in the world, flying free.

RB: My other feeling about that is that the beauty of me starting out selling my pictures on eBay for not that much money meant that I learned how to make a lot of pictures. It’s a lot of work, and it takes a lot of practice to be good at it. But it’s still photography.

I remember one year getting ready for a show and being buried with the amount of prints that I had to make. I was really busy in the darkroom and was working a lot and thinking about how hard it was and wondering if I was going to be able to keep up. It was summertime, and my neighbor was having their roof redone. So it was good check – I’m looking at those guys up working on the roof in summertime and thinking “Now, that is hard work. And what I’m doing is what I love to do.”

When I first started on eBay, I sold ten, maybe fifteen pictures a week, and I learned that I could get fifteen pictures out the door every single week. So if anybody needed fifty prints for an edition in a month, I could do that, and it wouldn’t have to hurt. I hear about others, they need a year to get ready for something like that.

This helps me cycle through my work and learn how to do it. It’s kind of like golf. It’s practice.

JS: Let’s talk about eBay. Are you still selling stuff on eBay?

RB: No. Not for a while.

JS: And when did you start and when did you stop?

RB: I turned forty in 1999 and started the eBay thing. Ebay was new at the time, and the way that I did was I said: OK, I have a two-year old baby that I’m in charge of, and that’s that. Now, how much do I feel like I need to contribute to the household in order to feel good about my part-time job as a photographer? And it was two thousand dollars a month. And then I said, OK, so if I work on this while the baby’s asleep, then how many pictures can I make in a day? I came up with forty a month – ten a week, and what I need is to make two thousand dollars. So I put them on eBay for fifty bucks each. And I sold six hundred of them the first year.

For me, that’s thinking about it as a business.

rb and AB

JS: Jesus – OK, so you made thirty thousand dollars on eBay in your first year.

RB: I did. It worked out.

JS: Six hundred prints in a year is staggering to me. I mean, I’ve been at it nowhere near as long, but I haven’t sold anywhere near that in the six years I’ve been actively selling. And this was your first year, and this was twenty years ago. It’s staggering.

RB: Seventeen years ago. At that time, eBay was new, and it cost like $1.50 to market, and it was easy. My whole plan progressed like this – I did eBay for about four years and I gained about one hundred and fifty solid collectors. And then I quit eBay and started marketing directly to those same collectors. I have individual collectors who have over one hundred prints each. I mean, I’m not bragging – it’s just work.

I asked one of my collectors in Texas and said “What are you doing with all these pictures?” and he said: “I’m waiting for you to get famous.”

So, he’s got two things: he’s buying them aesthetically, and he’s also – truthfully – he’s also speculating. And I don’t feel like I have to deliver on that. I mean, I have to deliver on the aesthetic side and so he got a good deal either way. But if I do get famous, then good for him.

JS: All you need is a good hostage situation and maybe a heroin overdose, and he’ll be rich.


RB: Yeah, OK. I’ll keep that in mind.

JS: So, what sold on eBay?

RB: Nudes.

JS: Right. Let’s talk about naked lady pictures.

RB: Truthfully, when I left commercial wedding and portrait photography, I had taken landscape photos equaling zero. I never thought I was going to be a landscape photographer. And it didn’t take long to figure out that people don’t very readily buy portraits of people they don’t know.

JS: Amen.

RB: People will buy pictures of people they don’t know fairly readily, if the people in the pictures are not dressed. Hmmm. Also, I feel confident that my work has never been as exploitative as that just sounded.

JS: And how do you make sure that your naked lady pictures are not exploitative?

RB: I feel like they are anonymous and that the power lies within the subject rather than the viewer. I just had a long discussion with a friend about this. It’s never that these people are just available, or available at all. Part of it is because I want the subjects to be universal, and part of it is from my real emotions. Part of it is from what it’s like to have a two-year old daughter.

JS: Yeah. You live in an all-girl house.

RB: Right. And when you’re a dad, you have to work for it. Mothers immediately have a relationship with their children; dads have to work for it. I’ve always wanted to be the kind of dad with a deep relationship with my children. And when they’re young, it’s a busy time.

Listen, when the kids are one or two years old, it’s a lot of work. This is why so many couples get divorced during this time – you’re so focused on just getting this kid going that you sort of lose track of each other. And so a lot of what that early work was about, for me, was that whole feeling that my wife, my partner, this woman in my life, was not as available as she had previously been.

And so I wanted the models in these photographs to also be unavailable. Does that make sense?

Sarah: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.


RB: And so I really tried to carry that across. These are all voluptuous nude women, but they are not, in any way, available to the viewer.

And so now, I still make those kinds of photographs – far fewer but I still make them. These days, the interesting thing for me is that everything has changed again about that whole genre of photography.

Because of the internet, I feel like most of the nudes that you see now are more about having the identity intact, and it’s just somebody in a picture who happens to be undressed. But I’m still striving for the anonymity, and this power thing – I want the models to represent all women, and not just the individual person. It’s not easy.

I was really pleased that one of them got chosen for the museum.

JS: What else was chosen?

RB: Well the sticks, you know.

JS: Oh, I loved the sticks.

5 sticks

RB: Yeah, me, too, and Julia said it was her favorite. But otherwise, they didn’t get a lot of attention. This take me back to something I read in interviews that always bugs me: “My wife is my best critic.” My wife is very supportive, but she is not my best critic.

JS: So Kathleen didn’t like the sticks?

RB: No, Kathleen did not like the sticks. She thought it was boring. I wouldn’t say she’s my worst critic – Kathleen is my “everyday viewer” critic – she feels like she’s the voice of everyone when looking at my work. But my point about the sticks is that she’s not always right. And she’s often quite critical about pictures that I’m quite fond of. But I learned long ago to stick with them.

Sarah: They look like bones.

RB: That’s the beauty of them. They do look like bones. And it’s good. I like the nudes, but it’s my goal that they won’t be my main work. And I’m happy that on my last birthday sale, more than half the pictures were non-nudes.

JS: And what about on your fiftieth birthday?

RB: Way more. Mostly nudes. The shift is nice. So that’s the thing – in a gallery setting, I sell landscapes and still lifes and on the internet, I sell nudes.

JS: Well, that’s informative.

RB: It is informative. I had a chance to have my portfolio reviewed by the late Terry Toedtemeier, and I showed him a variety of landscapes and nudes and some still lifes and his comment was, pointing at the nudes: “There is no shortage of collectors for these photos.” This didn’t make me feel better or worse – it just was what it was.

I got off this topic before, but making nudes was a natural move for me when I stopped being a commercial photographer. No one would buy the other portraits, but they would buy the nudes. And at that time, I really felt that I needed a person to interact with. I had to teach myself to do landscape photography.

JS: So you had to shoot nudes in order to make portraits and have something to sell.

RB: Yeah, to be able to take pictures at all. It was clear that I didn’t want to take commissions. I mean, I know you take portraits, but I think they transcend in a very different way.

JS: Plus, I’m not trying to make my living on it.

RB: Your pictures tell more about the people and more effectively than mine do. Because of the setting.

JS: I’m aiming for the opposite of anonymity.

RB: You are, clearly. But the other thing is, like you said in your talk, you have the collaboration going, where they show up and they have their own agenda. Just like you said – whose picture is it? I find that highly interesting.

They bring a bigger piece of themselves. For the sake of comparison, I’m using models, and you’re using individuals.

JS: And they’re deciding what they’re going to put in front of the camera. It succeeds or not based on that, or on my ability to modify the situation.

RB: Or at least let it unfold. And you already have people knocking you off.

JS: Hmmm. It’s interesting to be a young photographer who people are already claiming to be “knocking off”.


Sarah: I knock him off the best. Wait, that came out wrong.

RB: And that went right on the tape. The only people who are stealing my bit are students, which I think is always amusing – but I perpetuate it because the ones I like the best are the ones that look just like mine.

JS: OK, let’s talk about people stealing each others’ bit a little. Now, you make naked lady pictures, and how do you do that without making one that I’ve seen a hundred times before?

RB: I’m not sure that I am. I’m not convinced I’m giving anybody anything that they haven’t seen before, and that is not my major goal. I feel like photography has suffered at the hands of young photographers who feel like they always need to do something that no one else has done. I feel like we have a lot of ugly pictures as a result of that.

That being said, what I feel like I’m giving you is a sense of calm, organised beauty. Regardless of my subject matter, whether it’s a landscape or a building or a still life, I want a calm sense of beauty. I don’t want it to be titillating if it’s a nude, I don’t want the sky to look like Bolivia, I just want it to look like something which you can look at and say ‘I feel better’.

It’s not something you’ve never seen before, but that’s not the point. It’s mine. I mean, I’m not shooting “Pepper 30” over – I’m not going to do that but I am making traditional prints of traditional subjects and sometimes struggle with feeling completely irrelevant in the modern world, but I don’t care. The whole idea of being an artist instead of a commissioned photographer is that you do what you feel like.

JS: So, talk about content in regards to traditional vs non traditional imagery.

RB: Well, if I were to put my finger on the pulse of what’s popular in galleries today, then it would be much more social documentary-driven. In fact, you can read prospectuses for group shows, and that’s what they want. For me, NPR handles that. We’re not in charge of that.

JS: OK, so what are you in charge of?

RB: I’m in charge of soothing everybody. Making people feel good. It’s kind of a generational thing – I’m way too considerate to show you something that’s going to piss you off.


Sarah: That’s a whole other thing. There’s a whole other generation which can do that right now.

RB: Right. Not my department. And then, even since then, since the social documentarians, there has been a whole new generation. I mean, Abigail’s in high school, and she is so thoughtful and optimistic and global. She doesn’t just want everybody to be happy, she wants everybody to succeed. And it’s so genuine, it makes me really happy.

JS: So someone, presumably from this middle generation between you and Abigail, once described “good” art as that which does not match your couch. And their point was that they want the art to challenge you, they have the need for the aggressive documentary style – if it’s not making you uncomfortable, then it’s not fulfilling the purpose of art. Your point is much the opposite, that art can, and should, look good over the couch.

RB: Exactly. I mean, what do you think? What do you want over your couch?

JS: Well, you know that I want the soothing and organised beauty. Only beauty will save the world.

RB: Yeah, this is cause we’re romantics, I think. I don’t want to soap box too much, but when I see modern portraiture, I see people taking banal pictures of banal people and I think to myself, when these people modeled for these photos, they had no idea what they were getting into. They didn’t realise that these were going to be 8×10 color photos of them looking extremely plain or boring or banal. And I don’t think that’s OK.

lilith l

JS: Well, it’s the difference between taking pictures and making portraits, if you ask me.

RB: I think so. And I also think it’s too easy. It’s too easy to point out how things look bad.

JS: We talked some about exploitation in the nude, but I think it pervades a lot of “dressed” portraiture, too. It always drives me crazy, and always drives me off. Some photographs only look, to me, like the subjects are being taken advantage of.

RB: They look like angst-ridden teenagers, or disheveled grown-ups who don’t have any money or whatever.

JS: And lots of even maybe well-meaning documentary work, like the ubiquitous shot of the poor girl in Afghanistan – here, let me take your picture and get famous off that. I know there’s a flip side to this argument but…

RB: But, guess what? Everybody already knows it’s bad. And I’m not interested. But I’m going to stick with it, even if it doesn’t work out for me. There are several things I’ve done in my career that mean I’m not having a big show in a fancy gallery, but I’m happy with the things I do. And I’m getting the work out.


JS: We’ll get to galleries in a bit. First, let’s talk about the future of photography.

RB: For me?

JS: Sure, let’s start there.

RB: I worry about doing the same old thing. But I really am not compelled to do anything else. I just want to keep making the same genre of pictures that I’ve always done. That’s what turns me on.

Every time I do something wildly, dramatically different, it never makes it to the print.

Sarah: What about side projects?

RB: I try, but I never like it. I don’t know if this is me being weak or me being fixated, but it just doesn’t feel right. I talked to Jake about this a few weeks ago and said “Jake, do you ever think about making a different kind of picture?” And Jake comes back with “I’m thinking about making a horizontal one.” And I love that. It’s exactly how I feel.

The mantra I constantly hear is “You have to do something new”, and I’m a little fed up with it. I had someone that I respect recently tell me that I’m too much of a craftsman and not enough of an artist.

JS: What does that mean?

RB: He felt like I need to take pictures I’ve never taken before. But I was a little pissed. I think craft is super important but I don’t feel like my pictures are strictly about craft.

JS: But we’ve already discussed the importance of the object. And I think you implied that it’s ultimately more important than the image.

RB: Well, that’s not true.

JS: OK, so let me ask you really explicitly – would you rather see a really banal image which was incredibly well executed, or a compelling image on an iPhone?

RB: That’s not a fair question.

JS: It’s a mental exercise. And you only get to choose one.

RB: I would say that I would be equally disinterested in both of the modes. What I really want, obviously, is both at the same time. I don’t think a photo on an iPhone is a photo. And the perfectly executed boring photo is just that – it’s boring. I want both. I want it all.

JS: Well, you’re dodging my question, but I’m not surprised. I think the answer comes down the same way for everyone, eventually.

RB: Obviously, the picture has to be good, I just think of the iPhone photo as a “vernacular” photo, which can be really beautiful. But it’s different than the “intentional” photo.

JS: Maybe we should have a symposium on different terms to reflect the different kinds of image making. I’m feeling less and less like what I’m doing is even “photography”. At least not in its new definition.

RB: Right. The phones are fun, and they change everything. I was laying on my bed, and I took a picture of my ceiling fan, I added an instagram filter, and thirty seconds later, twenty two people liked it. I mean, that’s a huge shift. But honestly, I was just bored. And I don’t think art comes from people being bored.

JS: I’m remembering this great thing you said about phone photography one day while we were out walking.

RB: What? I don’t remember.

JS : You’re lucky I was paying attention. I quote you on this all the time. “Phone photography is to real photography what phone sex is to real sex. It’s fine if you don’t have any other options. But hopefully you have other options.”

RB: Yeah, that sounds like something I’d say. Phone photography is cool, but there’s a difference between cool and beautiful.

JS: They can’t be both?

RB: Jake, I feel like we’re spinning in circles.

JS: In fact. OK, so let’s move on to galleries. We’ve been talking about this interview for a year and a half, and one of the first things that made me want to do it originally was your phrase about artists: “We need to get our balls back.”

RB: Right.


JS: So, you want to talk about galleries? You want to burn some bridges?

RB: Well, at that time I had just started thinking about how photographers got to the point where we would be grateful, after a long process of work, that we would be selected to spend two or three thousand dollars of our money to put our pictures up in someone else’s business, where the business is specifically to sell work, and have the expectation that we would then take them all home.

So many of the photographers that I meet say that they have shows, but that they don’t expect to sell anything. I don’t know what other person would get to the point where they thought that was a good idea. I mean how did we lose track of the fact that galleries need us more than we need them?

Look at it this way, here’s this business whose point is to have twelve months of programming, and we are supplying all the work. If it’s two thousand a show, then that’s twenty four thousand a year worth of material which isn’t even on the gallery’s budget. So, without us, there would be no gallery, but we have taken the back seat to where we feel lucky to have a show and don’t have any expectations of making any money from it. And the split is 50/50, but all the production costs come out of our side.

I had a perfect experience once, where a gallery requested forty of my images and I sent them the forty loose prints – they matted them, they framed them, they advertised them, they sold them, and then they paid me. It was beautiful. But that’s not the rule.

So, for instance, I feel like the split shouldn’t even happen until costs have been covered.

Galleries, in their defense, are trying to make money, too. And I know that they have a lot of expenses. Big, established galleries, with big name artists, have a good chance to make money. Smaller galleries, with emerging artists, well, just the sales can’t make it. Which takes us to juried exhibitions. Now you’re spending an additional thirty dollars for the privilege of hanging your picture on the wall. And there are so many of us.


JS: But that’s the whole issue. I mean, for every gallery, there’s twenty or thirty artists lined up out front.

RB: Twenty or thirty? Forget about it. There’s a hundred.

JS: That’s my point. Sure, galleries need us to have a point, but we also need them. Like we’ve both said earlier about needing an audience to finish the work, and we can’t do that without a gallery willing to take on the risk and the overhead and the associated work.

RB: But it’s not working out. There used to be a small number of gatekeepers, and if you didn’t get the nod, you didn’t make it. Now, everyone just goes to the internet. Now, we all establish our own resume. I don’t know what the answer is.

I know a lot of photographers who feel that the gallery system is so damaged that they just go right to Flickr, and that’s where they get their audience participation. It’s enough for them – they don’t need to capitalise on it financially, they capitalise on it emotionally. And that’s all right, too.

But I don’t like the change in the business model – while we were busy thinking it was OK to pay and mount pictures that didn’t sell, galleries lost track of their job – creating a stable of collectors which they could rely on to come and collect the work. And juried shows are a different way of doing it, and that’s what’s happened – the artist has become the target market for the gallery, instead of the collector.

JS: Yeah, but you’re still not fixing it. What do you suggest to gallery owners?

RB: Not my job. My job is making the art.

JS: Well then, you shouldn’t bitch. Let’s pretend that the world righted itself in your eyes – what does it look like?

RB: It looks like this – the gallery is now an approachable venue with affordable art on the wall. This is how stuff sells – you and I both do this – it’s good to sell stuff for one hundred apiece and actually sell stuff. We come away feeling OK, the gallery make some money – everybody makes some money.

So why isn’t this the norm? We see most pictures on gallery walls for four hundred to twelve hundred bucks apiece, in a market which doesn’t sustain it. So we see no red dots.

Guys like us, we have more success selling “cheap” – I sold platinum prints at the Newspace show for $225 apiece and sold nine or ten of them – that’s pretty good. I remember you selling for ninety nine bucks apiece, and having a good night. So it works, but how much heat do we have to take for this?

In the old days, galleries had work up on the wall, and they had a different agenda. They wanted to make sure they sold, and sold a lot. And I feel like that’s changed – at that time, no one entered into the transaction thinking they weren’t going to make any money.

JS: And now we do.


RB: It’s all pay to play. The gallery business: if you want your pictures on the wall, you have to pay to get them there. The road to getting your work out consists of things like Photo Lucida, portfolio reviews, etc. It costs a lot of money to be an artist, these days.

JS: Are you going to float the idea that when you were starting out and twenty years old that the field was less crowded, or somehow different?

RB: I was different – my goals were different. I was a wedding photographer when I was seventeen years old. I went to commercial photography school and I wanted to be Richard Avedon more than I wanted to be Edward Weston. Meaning, I wanted to be in the business of photography.

I don’t know when it was, but it was much later that I realised that I wanted to make my own work. And I don’t know that there were that much fewer people making art. Or that there were more venues. It’s less about us and more about galleries not being properly managed.

JS: Ever run a gallery?

RB: No, why would you? I mean, there’s no money in it. If you had a guy like you or me in there every month, and we sold some things, but they were cheap, then what would happen?

JS: You could scrape by.

RB: Right. And you’re not going to get rich off of it. Maybe the issue is that people going into the gallery business are the same as the artists – they have high minded ideas about how much money they’ll make. I mean, how does that compare to the camera store business?

JS: I see your point. It lends itself to this evolving theory I have about why people get into business, and who gets into business. First, you’ve got people who are really good at something, and they really love it and they want to share, it’s all they want to do. Or the other people, who have a really good idea – an idea so good that it’s liable to make a lot of money.

So, you’re walking down the street, and it’s time to buy a hamburger. There’s Joe’s Hamburgers – it’s right there, and Joe is a hamburger savant – he’s dedicated his whole life to it and it’s what he’s really, really good at. Then there’s McDonald’s right next door. There’s no one in there who’s dedicated their life to the hamburger, but they have a really good model for the production and distribution of hamburgers. It’s very efficient.

And the McDonald’s is always going to work better, because people are, by nature, conservative, and they want to know what they’re going to get. Walking into McDonald’s, they know exactly what they’re going to get, every single time. Yes, there are people who will, for one reason or the other, deflect to Joe’s, but it’s never going to run as efficiently. The passion will never outstrip the efficiency.

RB: Are there are enough people who are not that conservative so that it could work out?

JS: That remains to be seen. Furthermore, we live in this bubble – we live in freaking Portland, and the rest of the country is simply not like this. The idea of small business or shopping local still seems, to many Americans, to be some sort of vaguely leftist plot. Here, maybe Joe’s hamburgers could get some traction. Anywhere else, forget about it.


RB: So, let’s apply this to a photo gallery. Say to yourself, what if Joe Gallery committed to beautiful, affordable artwork? And every month, he brought in another guy that was making work which Joe’s clients could relate to and could afford. People would start to go there, because they would rely on that gallerist to help them.

This would be different than the more mercenary approach – the thinly veiled efforts at making money through group shows. In the case of the group show, the gallery makes money, but what does the viewer get? He gets, she gets, disjointed groups of not particularly well-realised work. The photographers who are doing well, the committed people, they’re not participating in group shows. I’m not saying that there’s no good work in group shows – but a lot of it is people who aren’t the full-timers.

This model that we’re talking about here – emerging, accessible, and affordable, well that could work.

We need to stop complaining about how Portland doesn’t want to buy artwork which doesn’t cost much money. Guess what? Here’s where we live. If we don’t like it, we should move. I sell what I can to the market which I have available to me.

Look, art and commerce is a bitch. There’s no doubt about it. I’m sympathetic to the gallerists out there, and I know it’s hard. But my point is that we, as photographers, somewhere along the line, lost our nerve. It wasn’t about how much we charge. It’s about what our value is. Not dollars and cents, but the value of the objects that we’re making. This is why now we see inkjet prints stuck on the wall with magnets.

I’d love to see galleries buying frames – write a grant and get a set of gallery frames in three sizes, so that when Ray, or Jake, or Sarah gets a show, we’re not burdened with the expense of putting up work.

JS: Which sounds like a scheme for helping what you’re calling the “broken” gallery system. Probably about time to address issues on the artist side, as well.

RB: It’s all the same problem, really – a lack of realism. The bulk of living photographers want prices like they’re dead. I had ten pictures in the drawers at Blue Sky – priced like usual at $225, and I sold seven of them. I felt pretty good about that. Everybody else was way more. And when I say I sold seven, people ask how much and I tell them and they say “Oh, well that’s why.” But the pictures sold. And now I have seven more out in the world, and a thousand dollars to show for it.

How much do you make working a regular job? How many jobs can I get where I can work from 9-3 every day, nine months a year, have the summers off, and be able to take care of the kids when they’re sick? For me, that flexibility is everything. It’s a funny equation, and it ends with me making art.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the gallery system is broken. For most of us. There is a small percentage of the galleries and artists that work very well, and make tons of money. Julia just came back from Paris Photo and clearly lots of pictures got sold there. And I always felt like if that’s going to happen to me, then the best way is for me to arrange that is to do what I’m doing now. Because if I don’t get a lot of pictures out there, then how the hell will anyone know who I am?

And if suddenly I become that guy, then I’m ready. I can’t force it, but I can prepare for it.


JS: Yes. Putting your time in in the trenches, over the course of the last twenty years, and working it: selling on eBay, selling to collectors, and working every day. The birthday sales, all of it, it all accumulates. I’m proud of you because you’re not expecting to make a photograph and suddenly become a rock star. You’re working for a living.

RB: I am working for a living. And if the other thing happens, then great, but that doesn’t happen very often.

JS: I know. I look around at some of the talent that we have just in Portland – really credentialed, mature talents who are collected internationally and published and exhibit regularly, and ultimately, they’re not super famous and wealthy. Most of them have day jobs. Stu Levy has a day job.

RB: And me, I don’t even have a job. I mean, I work every day, but it never feels like work. I mean, I’m not rich, and I won’t be rich, but then, again, I don’t have a job. And that’s all you can hope for.

JS: In fact. This is when you start calculating your wealth not based on money.

RB: Right. Although my retirement might suck.

JS: Well, there is no retirement. The good news is you’ll be able to be in the darkroom when you’re seventy.

RB: Which sounds great, except I think I’ll have that same existential problem: What’s it all about? That’s what keeps bugging me.

JS: The point of having the interview is for you to tell us.

RB: I think I obsess too much, and ignore the fact that I’m already doing it. My mother had the same advice for me, recently. She said “You spend too much time thinking about it. Just do what you do.”

JS: And that seems like an excellent place to sign off.

RB: Thanks, Jake. Thanks, Sarah.

JS: Thank you. And good night.


The Pinhole Makers

In celebration of Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, we’d like to celebrate all you passionate pinhole photographers and camera makers. We sat down (virtually) with several pinhole camera makers and takers recently to pick their photographic brains about what draws them to pinhole photography, and what kind of cameras they make and use.

The Pinhole Camera Makers

Kurt Mottweiler

Pinhole Photography by Kurt Mottweiler

Pinhole Photography by Kurt Mottweiler

BMC: What is it about pinhole photography that draws you in?

KM: Pinhole photography is the closest thing to magic I get to practice in my daily routine. Combining magic with my love for historic camera design and the craft that goes with it is about as good as it gets.

BMC: What special modifications did you incorporate into your own pinhole camera?

KM: I like a camera that functions easily and inspires me as a beautiful object. Everything evolves from there.

BMC: Where has your pinhole camera been?

KM: The wonders of northern New Mexico (where I lived before Portland), the treasures of southern Utah (one of my favorites places), the top of the Tacoma Narrows bridge tower (one of the coolest places I’ve stood), the delights of Italy (what can you say . . . ), a lot of the rest of the U.S.A. and, of course, the best place on earth – Portland.

To learn more about Kurt’s cameras, or order one for yourself, visit his website.

kurt mottweiler

Kurt’s curved plane pinhole camera


Kurt wielding his pinhole creation

Kurt wielding his pinhole creation


James Guerin

Analog Phone Multi-cell by James Guerin

Analog Phone Multi-cell by James Guerin

BMC: Why do you like using your pinhole?

JG: The simplicity of a light tight box, a tiny hole and a piece of light sensitive material. The constraints it imposes are severe, no viewfinder, no focusing, tiny aperture and long exposures. As Da Vinci put it – “Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom”. This certainly holds true, some of the most creative images I’ve ever seen have been created by a pinhole camera. Aside from that I love the experience – the capturing of pinhole images. The long exposures slow me down, allow me to see and appreciate my surroundings and in some way to feel connected. When I first started photographing the image or result was all important, shooting pinhole has taught me that the experience, is as important.

BMC: What special modifications did you incorporate into your own pinhole camera?

JG: The process of camera conception, building, shooting and developing film/paper is also a huge part of it for me. I’ve built curved film plane panoramic cameras, matchbox solargraph cameras, 6×6 and 6×9 wide angles, 4×5’s, an 8×10” ultra-wide, anamorphic, a 4×10” panoramic multi-shot, an 8×10” multi-cell camera and couple of zone plate cameras. Recent features I’ve incorporated are off centre pinholes to create scheimflug effects and multi-cell images – a bit like a collage of separate images to come together to make one image. I also sell pinhole cameras and have just added a new 4×5″ model made from oak and walnut, with a 38mm focal length and 3 independent pinholes that will enable shooting with the central, or a vertical or horizontal rise pinhole (30mm of rise).

BMC: Where has your pinhole camera been?

JG: I’ve shot pinhole here in mainly here in France and in Ireland. I’ve currently got a few solargraph cameras stuck to some street signs in Limerick (Ireland) quietly going about their business.

For more information about James’ pinhole cameras, and to get one for your own, visit his website.

Matchbox Solargraph by James Guerin

Matchbox Solargraph by James Guerin


James Guerin and his pinhole creation

James Guerin and his pinhole creation


Darius Kuzmickas

Pinhole Photograph by Darius Kuzmickas

Pinhole Photograph by Darius Kuzmickas

BMC: What is it about pinhole photography that draws you in?

DK: Pinhole photography is my comfort zone! I also call it “slow” photography, because of long (or very long) exposures. Pinhole photography (or the camera obscura) is a heavily intuitive process where I’m more concerned about creating a mood rather than delivering an image wrapped in the trappings of reality. The moment is not important. Simple in theory and process, it predates modern photography, and it can be quite tricky. What isn’t left to luck is owed to plenty of practice, precision and experimentation.

BMC: What special modifications did you incorporate into your own pinhole camera?

DK: The ability to shift the pinhole for perspective corrections, for use especially in photographing architecture. I wanted to have this feature for a long time. So last year I designed a large format shift camera and master camera maker Kurt Mottweiler built it… one for me and one for himself. It is my No 1 camera right now.

BMC: Where has your pinhole camera been?

DK: Everywhere where I’ve been.

For more information about Darius, his pinhole cameras, and his pinhole photography, visit his website.

Pinhole Photo by Daniel Kuzmickas

Pinhole Photo by Darius Kuzmickas


Darius and his pinhole camera

Darius and his pinhole cameras

The Pinhole Photograph Makers

Zeb Andrews

Pinhole Photo by Zeb Andrews

Pinhole Photo by Zeb Andrews

BMC: Why do you like pinhole photography?

ZA: Two big reasons: they see the world in a way unlike any other camera I own, in a way I myself certainly cannot see it. They capture a span of time, they have limitless depth of field, they photograph with a certain serendipity. The other reason I like pinhole photography so much is that it slows me down, it encourages me to stop, step out from behind the camera, to look at the world and notice things while I am waiting on the five minute exposure to wind down.

BMC: What camera(s) do you use? Where have you taken them?

ZA: I have several, but my favorites are my Zero Image 2000, my Innova 6×9 and my Reality So Subtle 141 6×17.

Check out Zeb’s website portfolio for more images, lensless and otherwise.

Pinhole Photo by Zeb Andrews

Pinhole Photo by Zeb Andrews


Zeb and his Reality So Subtle pinhole camera

Zeb and his Innova pinhole camera

Shane Goguen

Pinhole Photo by Shane Goguen

Pinhole Photo by Shane Goguen

BMC: Why do you like using your pinhole?

SG: I use my pinhole camera because of the simple imagery it produces. The intial photograph that comes from a pinhole camera is usually what people spend hours on trying to create in post production work.

I also like that I can use 100 ISO film for almost all circumstances.

BMC: What special modifications did you incorporate into your own pinhole camera?

SG: I use a converted Holga. You can see unusual distortion in my photographs because I modified the pressure plate in the camera.

Pinhole Photo by Shane Goguen

Pinhole Photo by Shane Goguen


Shane Goguen and his modified pinhole camera

Shane Goguen and his modified Holga pinhole camera


David Paulin

Pinhole Photo by David Paulin

Pinhole Photo by David Paulin

BMC: Why do you like pinhole photography?

DP: I enjoy the different perspectives you can get with pinhole. The process is entirely unique, as well, and the slower exposures always lend themselves to interesting effects. You never exactly know what you’re going to get, but that’s part of the fun.

BMC: What camera(s) do you use? Where have you taken them?

DP: I have a Zero Image 6×6 camera, which I’ve taken all around the Pacific Northwest.

Find David on Flickr of more of his photography, pinhole and otherwise.

Pinhole Photo by David Paulin

Pinhole Photo by David Paulin


David Paulin and his Zero Image pinhole camera

David and his Zero Image pinhole camera


Faulkner Short

Pinhole Photo by Faulkner Short

Pinhole Photo by Faulkner Short

BMC: Why do you like pinhole photography?

FS: I like the mystery involved with pinhole photography; you never know what exactly you’re going to get until you see the results. I also like unique nature of the cameras and photographing process. You can set a camera down anywhere and most people who come across it don’t even know what it is. There’s something about the colors I get out of my pinhole camera. Maybe it’s the lack of a lens, but I always feel like the colors are more saturated and pop much more than from other cameras.

BMC: What camera(s) do you use? Where have you taken them?

FS: I have an older Zero Image 2000 6×6 pinhole camera, and it’s followed me across the US, Europe, and Argentina.

Find Faulkner on Flickr for more photography, pinhole and otherwise.

Pinhole Photo by Faulkner Short

Pinhole Photo by Faulkner Short


Faulkner and his Zero Image pinhole camera

Faulkner and his Zero Image pinhole camera

More Notable Pinhole Makers

Check out these photographers for even more pinhole inspiration.

Photographing Miss Daisy

If you’ve come to the store, chances are that you’ve noticed a beautiful dark haired lady sticking her head through the back curtain at least once. She’s hard to miss. She probably wagged her tail when you noticed her, which should have prompted you to ask her name. That lovely lady is Daisy. Officially, she is Jake’s, but we like to think of her as our shop dog. Daisy came to Jake a little broken, but eight years later, she’s still as vigorous as a puppy. Come by and you’ll see what we mean.


Photo by Jim Hair

Photo by Jim Hair


Photo by Faulkner Short

Photo by Faulkner Short


Photo by Katt Janson

Photo by Katt Janson


Photo by Sarah Taft

Photo by Sarah Taft


Photo by Peter Carlson

Photo by Peter Carlson



Photo by David Paulin

Photo by David Paulin


Photo by Nick Burdett

Photo by Nick Burdett


Photo by Katt Janson

Photo by Katt Janson


Photo by David Paulin

Photo by David Paulin


Photo by Zeb Andrews

Photo by Zeb Andrews


Becoming Medium Format

Let’s face it, film isn’t dead.  If anything, film is enjoying a bit of a renaissance particularly in the realms of toy cameras and medium format cameras.  In fact, you are likely reading this because you are part of that wave of photographers interested in owning your first medium format camera.  Buying your first medium format camera is a big decision, not so much because of the cost, but more due to the overwhelming variety of medium format cameras available.

So where to begin?  As you may have discovered on your own, there are a lot of different medium format cameras out there.  Some of them are boxy, some are sleek.   Some have interchangeable lenses, some don’t.  Some are old, others brand new.  Waist-level, eye-level, meter, no meter, square, rectangular, SLR, TLR, rangefinder.  Ay carumba!  Where to begin, indeed.

Begin with yourself.  You know your aesthetic tastes and preferences.  Hopefully you know your hopes and expectations for what kind of photography you would like to make.  Give yourself a quiz by running through the following flow chart.  It is designed to ask you some simple questions about your preferences and boil your resulting answers down to a few suggestions.  Following the chart, you will find additional information regarding aspects of this decision making process as well as a slightly deeper look into some of the cameras listed.  So if confusion rears its head, read further down.

One final note before delving on: this guide is not meant to be exhaustive.  You will not see every medium format camera ever made on the chart below.  There is no mention of the Brooks Veriwide, Kodak Medalist, Kiev 88, or the Holga WPC.  This chart is a streamlined primer to help an aspiring medium format film photographer with little direction and lots of confusion increase the former and reduce the latter.  Along those lines, the cameras mentioned below represent the most common choices made by those buying medium format cameras.  So, without further ado…

medium format flow chart colorV4

Having ventured this far, you hopefully have a much better idea about which direction you are heading.  In case there is any residual confusion still hanging around, let’s shed some light on a few of the more common points of discussion involving medium format camera.

Square vs. Rectangular:
Always a good place to begin the medium format discussion.  By deciding early on if you are more interested in continuing to make rectangular photos or experimenting with a square frame, you can pare down the overwhelming number of options by about half.  Medium format cameras generally produce negatives in one of four sizes: 6×4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm or 6x9cm.  Many of the most popular medium format cameras are part of the 6x6cm branch.  The format of the camera determines how many exposures you can fit on one roll: 6×4.5cm gives you 15 or 16 depending on the specific camera, 6x6cm has 12 exposures per roll, 6x7cm is ten frames a roll and 6x9cm a mere eight exposures before reloading.

TLR vs. SLR:
This stands for Twin Lens Reflex and Single Lens Reflex.  If you are coming from a digital or 35mm film background you likely already have experience with SLR cameras.  TLR cameras are boxy cameras that sport two lenses on the front of the camera.  The top lens is used for viewing, usually via a waist level finder on the top of the camera, and the bottom lens is the taking lens; it is responsible for exposing the image on the film.  TLRs are unique looking, quiet and relatively lightweight and small.  They have become very popular choices amongst photographers venturing into the medium format realm for the first time.

Unlike TLRs and SLRs, rangefinders do not use a lens for viewing and focusing, instead opting for a separate focusing window in the body of the camera.  Since you are not seeing through an actual lens, you do not see the effect of focus, depth of field or flare.  The upside is rangefinders have no behind-the-lens mirrors (which are required by SLRs and TLRs), making the cameras smaller, lighter and much quieter.  Rangefinders can be easier to focus in lower light conditions but more tricky to focus on moving subjects, unless one is very well practiced.

Toy cameras:
You cannot really have a discussion about medium format without talking about Holga and Lomography.  These cameras occupy a branch of medium format photography characterized by cheap (or at least cheaply made) cameras designed to give quirky and unpredictable results.  The relatively low cost (though some of Lomo’s cameras can be quite expensive) and unpredictable effects are the defining traits of this branch of cameras.  You can include old folding and box cameras in this section for the same reasons.  Historically mass produced and therefore easy to find, an old Kodak box camera can be a fun way to get one’s feet wet in the ocean of medium format photography before taking the full plunge.  All these cameras tend to produce low quality results and don’t usually provide the photographer with much control in terms of shutter speeds, aperture or focus.

If autofocus is a primary concern of yours I would advise against medium format.  There are medium format cameras capable of autofocus but they are nowhere near as fast as their DSLR or 35mm SLR cousins.  If speed is not your main reason for wanting an auto-focus medium format camera then look at the Hasselblad H system, the Mamiya 645 AF or a Contax 645; be prepared to spend a pretty penny for any of these cameras though.  A less expensive alternative is the Pentax 645N and 645NII.


Camera specific notes:

Hasselblad 500C/M – If you have the budget you can potentially buy your last medium format camera first.  Long considered a pinnacle of camera evolution, Hasselblads are sublime mechanical cameras with some of the best lenses ever made.  A full kit (including the body, film back and lens) usually starts close to $1000 and can quickly get more expensive based on the model and vintage you are buying.  Considering that some DSLRs cost three times as much and that Hasselblads make negatives 3-4 times the size of a full frame DSLR, the Hasselblad makes a compelling argument not only for photographers who like the aesthetic of the older camera but are interested in getting as high quality an image as possible.

Mamiya 645 – Once the main camera used by professional wedding and portrait photographers, the Mamiya 645 cameras got left by the wayside when the digital revolution began and the aforementioned photographers transferred to DSLRs.  The 645 branch of medium format is full of cameras that are very well built, produce excellent images and yet are dirt cheap.  Additionally, with the surfeit of these cameras on the market and most buyers opting for Hasselblads, TLRs or other cameras, competition for 645 cameras is very light.  Cheap, easy to find, excellent quality, versatile.  What’s not to like?

Mamiya RB67 – If you are a studio photographer you cannot really find a better value than the RB67 or RZ67.  True, these cameras are beasts.  Large, heavy and about as easy to hand-hold as a car battery, the RB67 belongs on a tripod in a studio.  But once ensconced there, they really shine.  Their modular design allows you to not only change out lenses, but film backs and finders as well.  These cameras use a leaf shutter in the lens providing flash sync speeds up to 1/500th of a second.  Their focusing rails also make use of a built-in bellows permitting them to focus much closer than many other medium format cameras, making them great for product photography or still life.

Pentax 67 – They look like a normal 35mm SLR on steroids.  They handle just like one too.  If implementing the 6×7 format in the field interests you and the price of the Mamiya 7 does not, the Pentax 67 is a great option.  This beast is surprisingly easy to hand-hold and operate for a camera of its size.  They also boast exceptionally nice lenses.  If you go looking, make sure to pick up a later model 67 body that has mirror lock up.  The earliest version of the 67 lacks a mirror lock up switch which is handy to have with this camera’s giant mirror.

Mamiya C330 – Most TLR cameras do not have interchangeable lenses.  On a Rollei or Yashica this helps make the camera compact but is limiting to the photographer who wants to build a versatile kit.  Not only does the C330 have interchangeable lenses, but it can also focus much closer than the 3.5 feet typical of most TLRs. C330s also have parallax correction in their viewfinders to help accurately compose those close-focus exposures.  The C330 was the last in a line of cameras that includes the C2, C22, C220, C3, and C33.  There are minor differences between all the models but in broad-stroke terms they are all similar cameras and all make good options for those looking for a TLR with interchangeable lenses.

Bronica SQ-A – Bronica are the darkhorse underdogs of the medium format world.  Due to the earliest Bronica S camera’s lack of reliability, they do not have a terribly great reputation.  Later Bronica models were built in a much better fashion and as long as you avoid those first model S cameras you will probably have little to no troubles with the Bronica system in terms of durability.  Of course, Bronica didn’t support any of their systems for nearly as long as Pentax, Hasselblad or Mamiya so finding accessories, lenses or spare parts can be tricky.  Still, they make an excellent bargain option for someone looking for decent quality optics without the money to spend on a Hasselblad.

There you have it – enough information to be dangerous. The world of medium format photography is a vast place: large plains of well-established knowledge combined with a plethora of nooks and crannies for adventurous explorers.  This vastness can be intimidating and even confusing to the uninitiated photographer.  If you are eager to learn even more, here is our suggestion: tell your boss you are going to take an extra long lunch, get in your car, drive on over to Blue Moon Camera, then spend an hour at the counter holding cameras and generally geeking out with our staff.  Be warned though, you may just end up leaving with a happy new addition to the family.

Tele-Rollei Hasselblad medium format cameras

Like one of these beauties.


Darkroom Printing- A Harmony of Art and Science

Rules are meant to be broken, especially when talking about photography. However, when printing in the darkroom, it’s a good idea to get a firm grasp on the fundamentals before moving on to a more experimental approach. Knowing what makes a good darkroom print, and being methodical in your technique will aid you in your creative journey and bring your black and white photos to life in the form of beautiful prints. You’ve already got the basic knowledge to be up and running in the darkroom, but you’re ready to take your printing to the next level. I find that working in the darkroom is a perfect blend of science and art. Being diligent and organized with the analytical and scientific side of things will ultimately make the creative process easier and more effective. Speaking as a production printer who has to work through a number of different orders and comply with a variety of printing requests, I cannot stress enough how invaluable it is to be organized. Making sure your setup is thorough and consistent and keeping a printing log will help you to replicate a print in the future or give you a starting point from which to make changes. Breaking the rules of printing is fun and exciting, but it’s even better when it comes from a place of control and understanding.

I started out printing in the darkroom in high school, printed all through college and have been working in photo labs ever since. My biggest mistake in the early years was not respecting the chemistry in which I had my hands every day. Know this- chemical allergies are real and they are cumulative.Thus, it is important to practice safe and long lasting printing habits. The more you print, the better you get and the more you expose yourself to the chemical ingredients. So please, ALWAYS wear gloves and make sure your darkroom is well ventilated. Take it from me, you do not want to develop an allergy to the chemicals. It’s really not fun.


Gloves are good!

Getting Set Up

Set out your trays and make sure there is at least 1.5 inches of chemistry in each tray. Fiber paper is prone to curling slightly at the edges, and you want to be sure that the entire paper surface is immersed in the chemical bath.

Check that your chemicals are good to go and not exhausted. Expose a small piece of photo paper to white light. Develop and fix as usual. If the paper turns black, your developer is good. If it’s not quite black, your developer is exhausted. Hold on to this swatch of black paper, it will come in handy later.  A couple drops of hypo check in your fixer will let you know if the fix is still good. If the hypo check stays clear, it’s good to go. If the hypo check turns a milky white, don’t use it, remix. Keep track of the dates that you mix chemistry. It’s always a good idea to use fresh chemistry (mixed within the last week or so and stored in an air and light tight container).

Make sure that the enlarger you’re using is set up for the film format you’re printing. Some enlargers have removable condensers that you need to swap out for printing different film formats, others will have a knob that adjusts the condensers for different formats. Be sure to use the appropriate focal length lens for the film format you’re printing. If you use an enlarging lens designed for 35mm when printing a 6x6cm negative, you will experience exposure fall off around the edges of your image. 50mm is the standard focal length for 35mm film, 75mm for 6×4.5cm, 80mm for 6x6cm, 90mm for 6x7cm, 105mm for 6x9cm and 135mm or 150mm for 4×5 film.

A lesser known quality of enlargers is that they can come out of alignment. I’ve had it happen where a print was in focus through the center and right side, but the grain on the left side of the print was soft. If you experience this or other weird focus issues with your prints, check your enlarger’s alignment. Break out your level and make sure that the baseboard, negative stage and lens stage are all level and parallel. Be sure to check the level both from side to side and front to back. If all these components are in line, move on to check the paper easel. If you find that any part of your setup is misaligned, you’ll need to adjust it. On most quality enlargers, there are set screws on the enlarger frame that allow you to adjust the angle of the enlarger head; the negative stage and lens stage should have set screws toward the back of each component. Make small adjustments: one at a time until you are able to get everything level. This process can make you want to tear your hair out, but it’s worth it. If everything on your enlarger is aligned and you’re still seeing focus abnormalities, check to see if your negative is lying flat in the carrier. You can sandwich your negative between glass if necessary.

 Enlarger Adjustments Negative

Here are the adjustments for a Beseler 45 enlarger.

Now you’re ready to start printing!

black and white negative

The negative.


Now that your enlarger is aligned and your negative is flat, it’s time to make sure that your print will be thoroughly in focus. I’ve often seen prints that have great exposure and tonality, but weren’t in focus all the way across. It’s a shame because it’s such an easy thing to remedy. Check that your negative is in focus from corner to corner by not only checking the grain focus in the middle of the image, but in all corners of the print area. Stop your lens down two stops from wide open for maximum sharpness. Film grain is good. It means that you’re shooting film and enlarging from negatives. Let that grain shine through in all its sharpest glory.

Enlarger  Darkroom

Focusing on the corners.

Enlarger Darkroom

Focusing on the center.

The easiest way to be efficient in your printing is to make good test strips. This does not mean making test strips that look good, but rather, making test strips that will be the most helpful. Select a portion of your negative that has as many exposure variants as possible and shows a section of the main subject as well as the background. Be sure to orient your test strip so that each different exposure shows the broadest range of shadows and highlights possible. This gives you a much better idea of where your base exposure should be and which areas of the image will likely need dodging and burning.

Test Strips

The horizontal test strip looks nicer, but the vertical test strip shows a better range of exposure.

You want to make sure that your print has a rich black, a good white and as many shades of gray as possible. Remember that black piece of paper you used earlier to test your developer? Keep it in the fixer tray. When you put a test strip or print in the fixer, you can float this black paper over the blackest parts of the image to make sure that they are, in fact, true black. Notice I say to float this swatch in the fixer tray. Some papers (especially Ilford) will not display a true black until they are exposed to fixer.

Fixer optical printing darkroom

Use your black swatch of paper to ensure a true black in your print.

This brings us to the topic of split filter printing. Let’s say that you’ve made your first work prints using a #3 filter. Your image has a good exposure, but you need a true black and a #3 ½ filter is just too contrasty. Try giving it an extra second or two using a #5 filter; this can be just enough to make your blacks pop without increasing the overall exposure of the image. You can give your entire print the extra time with the #5 filter, or you can selectively burn parts of the image this way. Working with a number of darkroom printers throughout the years, I’ve known quite a few who use split filtering as a rule for every image. Personally, I don’t agree with that style of printing. It can be handy when your image needs it, but working with higher contrast filters increases grain size and has the potential to undermine the delicate shades of gray you’ve worked so hard to achieve. So keep it as a tool in your ever expanding tool box, but don’t rely too heavily on this method.


Work print with notes.

Let’s talk about dodging and burning for a second. The best dodging and burning happens when you can’t tell that the image has been manipulated this way. Some printers use tools for this: cardboard or plastic shapes attached to a wire, or the cardboard pac-man shapes favored by most of the printers at Blue Moon. My personal preference when it comes to dodging and burning tools is using my hands. Maybe this is because my favorite photo teacher of all time once said,”You’ll never be a real printer until you only use your hands to dodge and burn.” I also think that hands make much more organic shapes than tools and make the dodge and burn less obvious. Use whatever tools you like, just be sure that your dodging and burning blends in well and doesn’t stand out.

Did you know that your eye is usually drawn to the lighter portions of a photo? Make use of this fact to help guide your viewer’s eye to the most important parts of the image. You might also find that blown out portions of the background are distracting; bringing down the tone of these areas will make them less distracting. Burn in those hot spots using a lower contrast filter than you used for the overall exposure. If you want to have a more dramatic effect while pulling the viewer’s eye to the center of the photo, consider burning in the edges and corners to create a vignette effect.


You can clearly see the burn in this print. No good.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when images don’t have good edges. You’ll want to make sure your image has clearly defined edges distinguishable from the white paper border around the image. You don’t want your image to bleed off into the unexposed portion of the paper. Think of it as the period at the end of your sentence- the image stops here. If you have a stubborn blown out edge, you can burn in the edge using a lower contrast filter than you used for the overall image. If the edge is really stubborn, try flashing that portion of the paper either before or after making your exposure. Flashing paper is a technique used to create a base fog on photo paper. Perfect for those times when, no matter how long you burn it in, that one highlight just won’t come in. You’ll want to flash your paper while it’s in the easel under the enlarger, but without a negative. Exposure times for flashing paper are usually very short and rarely exceed 2 seconds or so. This technique can be used either on the entire sheet of paper or just on specific portions. It can be a tricky skill to master, and is mostly achieved through trial and error. It took me quite a few printing sessions to get the hang of it and not have it look obvious, but when it works, it works really well.


Paper processing tricks

Handle your paper delicately. When you put your paper into the trays, be careful not to kink the corners by gripping them too tightly or folding the corner you’re holding. This is especially important when printing with fiber based papers as they go limp when saturated with chemistry or water.

It’s a good idea to put your paper in the tray image side up so that you know the image surface is immersed in the chemistry. If the paper is face down, there could be an air bubble trapped underneath, which will cause a spot of non-development or under-development. It’s pretty frustrating when you pull a good print only to realize, after you’ve put everything away, that it has little spots of underdevelopment. So I always put my prints face up in the developer to avoid these unfortunate surprises. I like to agitate my developer by rocking the tray. Avoid poking the paper with tongs, as this could lead to dents and kinks, and if your tongs are dirty, could leave smudges on the paper.

You can vary the look of your print with different agitation techniques and different developer temperatures and dilutions. A lower developer temp will yield a lower contrast image, while a warmer developer temp will yield a higher contrast image. Using a warm or hot developer can be useful when trying to improve contrast of a flat image. Developer dilution can also affect processing results. With a more dilute developer, developing times will increase, and the tones of the image will have less contrast. Conversely, a more concentrated developer will be more active, shortening developing time and giving the image more contrast. Agitation will also affect the activity of the developer. Aggressive agitation will cause the developer to be more active, decreasing development time. This can be useful if you want a particular part of the image to develop more than the rest of the image. You can take your GLOVED fingers (really, wear gloves) and run them back and forth over the part of the image you want to develop more to increase the amount of development in that area. This can be another useful trick when trying to bring in the tone of highlights. Conversely, let’s say that the top of your image looks perfect, but the bottom needs longer development: you can pull the top portion of the paper out of the developer and leave the bottom of the paper in longer. If you’re using this selective development method, make sure to keep a gentle agitation going, or else you’ll end up with an obvious line where the paper was lifted out of the developer.

developer darkroom

Selective agitation in the developer tray.

Now that you’ve worked so hard to make these beautiful prints, you want them to last.  Be sure that your print is fully fixed and washed well. Typical time in the fixer bath is 5 minutes, although if you’re using rapid fixer, the recommended fixing time can be a bit shorter. I like to give each print a full five minutes in the fixer just to be sure. To get an archival print, you’ll need to wash all the fixer out of the paper before you lay it out to dry. At Blue Moon, we conform to the archival standards of the Library of Congress. These standards require that photo prints be washed in water for 5 minutes, placed in a hypo clearing agent for 5 minutes and then washed in water again for 30-45 minutes. You can add a small amount of Selenium toner to your hypo clear bath, which aids in the stabilization of the print, and is considered the best way to ensure that your print is archival. Believe me, it’s a total bummer to find that your prints have yellowed or developed spots of discoloration after a few years. And that’s the thing, you won’t notice if your prints haven’t been washed properly for a long time, years even. So be diligent and do it right, it will save you some heartache in the future. When you take your finished prints out of the final wash, use a squeegee to squeeze excess water off the surface of your print. You want to make sure that your squeegee and the surface you’re using are clean. After all, no point in negating all that wash time, right?

Darkroom printing black and white negative

The final print.

Finally, remember that printing in the darkroom, like any other aspect of photography, takes time and practice to master. If you’re having a bad day in the darkroom or if you’re frustrated with a print that you just can’t seem to get right, come back to it another day.Sometimes a fresh perspective is all it takes. Keep good notes on everything you print. Be methodical. Pay attention to details when you’re setting up and printing. Appreciate the science behind the printing process, and let it guide your artistic process. The more consistent you are in your approach, the more consistent your results will be. Try and try again. Have fun with it. And once you’ve mastered these rules of printing, start experimenting. Try something new. Try something weird. Let the magic of seeing your image develop in the tray wash over you. Get creative and remember, ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES.

How to run your own Instant Film Photo Booth

Photo boothing at Jake and Zeb's Still Live show opening. (Photo by Jason Kelley)

Photo boothing at Jake and Zeb’s Still Live show opening. (Photo by Jason Kelley)

Nothing makes a party like a photo booth. There’s something magical about hosting a booth that produces physical prints on the spot. Incorporating an instant pack film setup can make a lasting memory, both in your attendees’ minds and with physical prints they can keep forever. And one of the best parts? It’s super easy to set up.

To get a run-down of how to set up an instant photo-booth, I asked Codex guest star Mark Hadley to give us some thoughts on his normal booth setup. Mark started running instant film photo booths in 2005, and shows no signs of stopping. With his experience of working events both large and small, his tips and tricks of the trade are sure to get anyone curious about this process off to a good start.

Mark Hadley

Mark ready for instant photo booth fun. (Photo by Mark Hadley)


Katt: So Mark, what is it about photo booths?

Mark: Photo booths. They’ve still got it, after all these years. An operational photo booth is not only the life of the party, it immortalizes the night one print at a time. People and partygoers are as thrilled as ever to be handed a print that was just taken of them. Nothing has changed. The flash, the intimacy, and the finality and romance of no negative–just one print on Earth–never gets old. I love it.

K: Let’s talk logistics. What’s your technical setup like?

M: Here’s what I use:

1. Polaroid 250 Camera – While nearly any Polaroid peel apart film camera will work, it’s best to use one with a functional PC flash port and a tripod socket.
2. A sturdy tripod
3. Flash
4. Flash Bracket
5. Appropriate PC flash cable
6. LOTS of Fuji peel-apart instant film. The 3000B black and white has been discontinued and won’t be available for long, but the color 100C version is still widely available.
7. Rubbing alcohol and Q-Tips for cleaning the camera’s rollers between at least every other pack of film.
8. Extra batteries for both camera and flash
9. (Optional) Reflective diffuser for ceiling of photo booth
10. (Optional) Second flash (slave) for back-lighting

First off, you don’t want to run out of film. My rule of thumb for film is to bring three times the amount of film that you think you will need. (I buy mine exclusively from the nearest Blue Moon Camera storefront.) You only waste film if you don’t expose it, and be prepared to be chained to the photo booth for the majority of the night (which is not a bad place to be). It’s comforting to bring as many back up components as you have. Flashes and flash cables tend to be the most precarious. And remember, you only waste film if you don’t expose it.

If possible, I would recommend having a full backup system. Borrow equipment from a friend if you have to.

K: That’s a lot of stuff. How does it all come together? Where do you set up?

M: An ideal space would be in a corner that’s accessible, but not in middle of everything. You’ll probably need about a 4’x6′ area to work with. One thing you’ll have to decide early on is whether you want people sitting or standing, shot vertically or horizontally. Most of the time I have people stand, and mount my camera on my tripod vertically. Have a patient friend stand or sit for you in the space before you decide on a camera position, so you can visualize and plan your general composure.

When cool backdrops are already present in your setting, use them! (Photo by Jason Kelley, at Powell's Books 2012)

When cool backdrops are already present in your setting, use them! (Photo by Jason Kelley, at Powell’s Books 2012)

Assembling a booth takes time. If you have to hang curtains for the photo booth, give yourself at least an hour to hang them and take some test shots in order to dial in the exposure, focus and composition. Since photo booths are commonly dimly lit, it’s helpful/necessary to pre-focus the rangefinder on your test subject, and use that distance for the rest of the night. I usually tape my rangefinder focus controls still, so I don’t have worry about bumping it out of focus throughout the night. I also put a “where-to-stand” strip of tape on the floor for me, and one for the subjects in the photo booth. This will also add a pleasing level of continuity to the photos.

The advantage of a flash bracket is it mounts right on the camera; no need to fuss about a light stand or holding your flash all night. I highly recommend using a flash that does not automatically shut off. Wasting a few batteries is not the end of the world, but running out of instant film because your flash shut off and your exposure came out dark is a much bigger problem. While batteries can be poached from TV remotes, smoke detectors or baby monitors, you aren’t going to find more film on the midnight beer run at the corner store.

When I have one, I like to diffuse my flash toward the ceiling, but if I don’t have a diffuser I’ll go mug-shot style and straight on.

To prop or not to prop? That is the question. (Photo by Jason Kelley)

To prop or not to prop? That is the question. (Photo by Jason Kelley)

K: What about the fun stuff? Do you use props? What kind of backdrop or curtain situation do you prefer for the booth itself?

M: I’m not a big prop user, but they can be fun, especially if you’re working a theme event.

One way to block out a busy background is to use curtains, but finding a way to hang them in an unfamiliar area can be tricky. When appropriate, this is where a hammer, small nails, and twine can come into use.

Here’s some optional extras I find to be helpful:

1. Heavy curtains
2. Bench or stool
3. Hammer and small nails
4. Gaffer’s tape
5. Twine
6. Flashlight

K: So you’re all set up and ready to go. Someone walks up to your booth. What do you do?

M: You want your work-flow to be as smooth as possible, so you’re engaging with your subjects rather than working with your gear. This is where having an always-engaged flash comes into play. If you keep everything ready to fire, your “1, 2, 3, go!” is actually that, and not a “1, 2, 3… oh wait, hold on, don’t move!”

Once you’ve posed, prepped, and exposed your subjects, you’ll pull your film out of the back. I usually re-cock the shutter (if you’re using a camera with a shutter cocking mechanism) right after pulling the film so I’m ready for my next group. It’s a good habit to get into.

You can use a timer to let you know when to peel off your backing (it usually takes about 2 minutes for the picture to finish developing). I’ll also hand the developing print to people with an hourglass. Once the hourglass runs down they can peel the back off themselves; it adds an extra sense of magic to the whole process.

K: Sounds great, Mark! Thanks for sharing your secrets.


Jason Kelley runs a 4x5 Graphic powered photo booth at Powell's (Photo by Katt Janson)

Jason Kelley runs a 4×5 Graphic powered photo booth at Powell’s (Photo by Katt Janson)

There’s more than one way to run an instant photo booth, and while this has been a tried and true way for Mark and many others, there’s certainly room for you to add your own spin on things. Jason Kelley is an instant photo booth photographer who uses a 4×5 Graphic with a pack film back in his booths rather than a Polaroid camera. Examples of his photographs are seen throughout this article, and can be seen on his website as well.

What it really comes down to is having fun. Try some of these methods out for yourself, have some fun, and send your guests home with a physical memory they can hold in their hands for years to come.

Integral Film – One Woman’s Impossible Obsession

Breakfast at Broder in Portland, OR - Polaorid Photograph by Briana Morrison

Polaroid Spectra + Expired Polaroid Image Film, by Briana Morrison

As my college career came to a close I noticed my love for photography starting to fade.  Art school seemed to have squeezed me dry so I started to look for new ways to create beautiful images.

I first fell in love with Polaroid–integral film–photography in 2008 but I didn’t know much about it.  I found images I liked but didn’t know what sort of cameras produced them.  I started out with a new Polaroid 600 camera, and though it was fun, I noticed that my photographs didn’t have the same qualities as the ones I really admired by other photographers.  After a little more research I discovered the Polaroid Sx70, the very first integral film camera complete with a manual focus, shallow depth of field, and a wonderful lack of glaring flash.

From that point on, instant photography and I have been inseparable.

Polaroid portrait of Leah Morris by Briana Morrison

Sadly, shortly after my newly discovered passion for instant photography, Polaroid announced they would no longer be making instant film.  I rushed to the store hoping to pick up a few last packs but I was too late… they were gone.  I knew this couldn’t be the end for me and my Sx70 so I started searching for a solution.  That’s when I came across The Impossible Project and my heart lifted, just a little, to know that someone was desperately trying to save integral film photography, impossible as the task may seem.

Jaime de Fna, the main square in Marrakech, Morocco. Polaroid photograph by Briana Morrison

Polaroid Sx70 + PX70 Impossible Project Film, by Briana Morrison

The Impossible Project released their first film edition in March 2010.  It was the day after I arrived in London–my very first time in Europe–and I was anxious to find a computer with Internet access so I could order my first few packs of their untried film.  When I came home and loaded my camera with the new film, it didn’t take me long to realize the learning curve was steep.  I kept at it and was able to make some beautiful photographs from nearly every film edition they’ve produced since.

Polaroid boudoir portrait by Briana Morrison

Polaroid Sx70 + PX70 Color Protection Impossible Project Film, by Briana Morrison

Today The Impossible Project is producing some beautiful films that don’t take quite as long to get the hang of.  Their color film is gorgeous and I love that the emulsion resembles an old painting when scanned and enlarged.  Whether you’re new to using Impossible film or a seasoned veteran, you will find yourself awed by the beautiful photographs this medium helps to create.  It is like no other, and though people may try, the effect of integral film’s emulsion can not be duplicated digitally.

Polaroid photograph by Briana Morrison

Polaroid Sx70 + PX70 Color Protection Impossible Project Film, by Briana Morrison

So if you are ready to go out and try your hand at instant photography, I suggest picking up a couple packs of Impossible Project film, grabbing your camera of choice, and photographing with an open mind.  Integral film photography has its own sort of magic, one that cannot be wholly controlled, but will surprise you with beautiful results.

Cat on a rug in Essaouira, Morocco. Polaroid photograph by Briana Morrison

Polaroid Sx70 + PX70 Impossible Project Film, by Briana Morrison

Briana Morrison is a former employee of Blue Moon Camera & Machine.  Based in Portland, she spends her time photographing alternative weddings, fine art boudoir sessions, and documenting her travel adventures on film.  You can find more of her words and photographs on her website

Instant pack film and medium format cameras, or why I went to the dark side.

Mamiya 645 Pro + Polaroid back + Fuji FP-100, by Anne Di Elmo


 A few months ago, I borrowed a Hasselblad for the sole purpose of attaching a Polaroid pack film magazine to its dignified body. Heresy, I know, especially for a first time Hasselblad user. It’s important that I tell you I am not a Polaroid user. I admire good work produced on Polaroids, but I have never felt the pull to shoot them myself. That said, I liked the concept of peeling a print away from the chemical-laden backing paper, so I decided to give it a try. I must have exposed a pack in a weekend, and they weren’t important images, but they meant a lot to me because I had put so much effort into the process itself. Thus began my love affair with peel apart film.

 Even though Polaroid backs were designed primarily for proofing (checking exposure and composition before exposing a roll of film on a job), for a growing group of amateur and professional photographers, instant images made with a medium format camera have their own charm and intrinsic value. They’re still useful and artistic on their own. Once the print is digitally scanned and cropped, you have, on your computer screen, a fine scan of roughly the same caliber as that of a negative. The only difference is the reality of the physical artifact: a shiny print you can hold in your hands shortly after the exposure. It is beautiful in itself, and is the kind of object that is complete on its own. It is a tangible keepsake of that moment when you pressed the shutter, and as such, is something to cherish.


Mamiya 645 Pro + Polaroid back + Fuji FP-100c, by Anne Di Elmo

 One of the reasons that I never really entertained the idea of shooting Polaroid cameras was that I wanted to have as much control over my results as I am used to with my medium format cameras. I had to be able to choose my lens, aperture (ultimately, depth of field) and shutter speed. I am a control freak, so being able to meter a scene in a way that has become an essential part of my style was another factor that led me to go the medium format route.

 I never had the privilege of trying the original peel apart films made by the Polaroid corporation. I arrived late to the party, and unless some kind soul gives me a pack of extremely expired film, I probably never willi. When the Polaroid corporation stopped production of its instant film line in 2008, the Fuji corporation, which had started making pack film in the 1980s, began exporting more of it to fill the void left by Polaroid. A few years later, Fuji is still the only one making peel apart but recently announced that it was discontinuing its black and white film. The Polaroid back I borrowed from the Blue Moon Camera store stock still had a pack of film inside of it. There was a single frame left, and after exposing it, I realized that the pack was a discontinued film, the revered FP-100B. Just my luck. Not that it took me very long to fall in love with its replacement, the higher ISO FP-3000b, with its fine grain and low contrast, or the color FP-100C that produces rich greens and browns and is perfect outdoors.


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Mamiya 645 Pro + Fuji Pro 400H.  Exposing peel apart film with a Polaroid lover at the Ace Hotel, by Anne Di Elmo


 I am so passionate about this new-to-me process that I have been showing it to anyone with the slightest signs of interest. Case in point: at the end of summer, I bumped into a fellow instant film shooter (I guess I am part of that group now) and over coffee at the Ace Hotel, I exposed a few frames and lent her my Mamiya 645 so that she could do the same. As I watched her expression turning from expectation to surprise to jubilation, I realized what a powerful thing that tiny print could be, even for someone used to larger prints from Polaroid Land cameras. The image above shows our cumulative efforts, minus a small pile of instant prints on the left hand side. That day, a few of us bonded over the photos, discussed their grain and tones, and also got the attention of a Leica photographer who was fascinated by the instantaneous aspect and the tones, contrast and casual beauty of the images we had just created in front of him.



Hasselblad 500c + Polaroid back + Fuji FP-100c by Anne Di Elmo

 You might object to the gigantic black frame around those 6×6 and 6×4.5 instant film prints. I have heard that many times, and it is the biggest reason why I am thinking of moving to a larger format: 6×7. On its own, the 6×7 format is not my favorite, but slap a Polaroid back to a Mamiya RB67 and it suddenly becomes desirable ii. With a Hasselblad, you get a square that covers a little over half of your image area. The size of the image on the print is the same as the negatives produced by the Hasselblad with a 120 film magazine. It follows that with a Mamiya 645 Pro or Super, you get an even smaller, rectangular image. And a Mamiya RB or RZ67 gives a square image that fills up over 3/4th of the print area.

 The process was the real appeal for me then, and it still is the reason why I reach for my Mamiya 645 with a pack film back more often than I will pick up a 120 film back. There is nothing quite as satisfying as inserting a fresh pack in the magazine, pulling out the white tab with the frame number on it, then pulling out a fresh photo with the backing paper still on and its chemicals starting to develop the image. And still, these steps are nowhere near as enchanting as peeling the image from that backing paper, revealing your pristine image and the negative on the other side. It is such a tactile experience, and like a lot of the processes that us film people cherish, it encompasses several of our senses.

 Now, for the number lovers among us, here are a few details: a Polaroid film back for your Hasselblad can be had for between $80 and $100, and we get them sporadically at the store. If you own a Hasselblad, it’s a wonderful camera accessory to ask for a birthday or Valentine’s day. A back for a Bronica SQ-A (6×6) will set you back roughly $40, one for the Mamiya RB67 approximately $100. A pack of FP-100c (color film) costs $13 and contains 10 frames. Trust me, they’re worth every penny. Now, follow me down the rabbit hole.


For inspiration, be sure to check out


i Read what you want into this statement (and if you so wish, send any expired film to the store).

ii So desirable you can expect me to drool all over yours. No, I am not above that.


Nikon Non-AI, AI, AI’D, AIS…. oh my. Part 2.

And here we are again, at the cusp of further discussion regarding the Nikon F lens mount.  Part one of this Codex article detailed the various Nikon F mount revisions that have occurred through the years.  While there have been numerous modifications to the F mount, it has remained essentially the same mount since its inception in 1959.  If you were to raise your hand at this point and ask if this meant you could use any Nikon lens on any Nikon camera the answer would be…mostly, but there are exceptions.  These exceptions break down into three main categories: mounting, metering and focusing.


It is true that the F mount has remained basically unchanged for over 50 years. However, the universal rule that one Nikon lens can mount on any other Nikon body has one big exception. Due to several modifications done to the mount (and the associated cameras) over time, early Non-AI lenses should not be mounted onto all AI-era or later bodies.  The reason for this lies in a small lever that sits around the lens mount on the camera body.  This lever was introduced along with the AI modification to the lenses.  When a lens is mounted the lever recesses into the notches cut into the base of the lens mount and allows aperture ring information to be communicated to the camera’s meter.  The key point here is that the lever recesses into those available spaces cut out of the lens.  A Non-AI lens does not have these notches and when one attempts to mount a Non-AI lens onto a later camera they jam this lever into the body.  At best this leaves the lever out of place and the meter reads incorrectly.  At worst it breaks the lever and results in a hefty repair bill.


The AI lever on some Nikon bodies makes Non-AI lenses unmountable without damage to the camera body.

This is true of both Nikon film and digital cameras.  With DSLRs many of the more consumer grade cameras (think lesser expensive bodies) have no such lever meaning they can mount either Non-AI or AI (and later) lenses.  More professional DSLRs have this lever on the camera’s lens mount meaning they should only be used with AI or later lenses.  Do not mount a Non-AI lens to your D800!

A few Nikon cameras (such as the F3, F4, FE , FM and the new DF) allow the user to swing the lever out of the way, clearing a path for the mounting of a Non-AI lens. The trade-off for this is the loss of meter coupling with the lens.  If the camera has a depth of field preview this can be pressed to engage stop-down metering.


Some AI Nikon bodies have the ability to flip the AI lever up and out of the way, allowing the mounting of Non-AI lenses. These levers must be unlocked by depressing the small silver button in the lower right corner of the red rectangle above.


Ok, so you have that lens successfully mounted, all is golden now right?  Not necessarily.  Next up is the question of metering.  Some Nikon bodies will not meter properly with various Nikon lenses mounted on them.  This is especially true of Nikon DSLRs.  Lower end DSLRs without the coupling lever on their mount were mentioned above.  These cameras can mount either AI or Non-AI lenses safely.  But if you mount any lens that is pre-AF (any manual focus lens) the camera’s meter is disengaged.  You will have to either meter with a hand-held meter or guess and check.  Furthermore, the only exposure mode you will be able to use is M (manual).  It is important to note that the lens will still function properly in terms of aperture and focus, there is just no metering in-camera.


Some Nikon bodies lack the coupling lever, making them safe to mount both Non-AI and AI lenses. However, this is often done at the sacrifice of metering.

If you have a more professional DSLR like the D700 – which will only safely accept manual focus lenses of the the AI variety – then you are in better shape.  These lenses couple with the metering lever on the body of the camera and allow aperture information to be conveyed to the camera’s meter and voila!  You have metering capabilities with that 20 or 30 year old lens as long as you stick with the M (manual) and A (aperture priority) exposures modes.  S (shutter priority) and P (program) will not function with older, manual focus lenses.

On the film camera side of the equation, if you own a Nikon N55, N60, N70 or N75 then neither Non-AI or AI (and by extension AI-S and AI’D) will meter on these bodies.  In the case of these cameras, if you want to use the on-board meter you will have to stick with AF lenses.


It goes without saying that if you mount an old manual focus Non-AI or AI lens on an autofocus camera there will be no auto-focus capabilities.  Furthermore, some Nikon DSLRs (think the D40, D40X, D60, D3000, D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100 and D5200), in order to make smaller, lighter cameras have no auto-focus motors in the camera body.  These cameras rely on Nikon AF-S (or the very rare AF-I) lenses with the AF motors built into the lens to auto-focus.  You can mount other AF lenses on these cameras and they will otherwise fully function… as manual focus lenses.  Two other cameras to keep in mind are the  Nikon N55 and N60 film cameras from the early 1990s.  These cameras will not auto-focus with AF-S lenses, preferring AF or AF-D lenses.


With this knowledge added to your mental toolkit, you could potentially open up for yourself a whole generation of Nikon lenses for your body of choice. If you’re careful about mounting, flexible on metering, and comfortable with manual focusing, your options will greatly expand. There’s a lot of great Nikon glass out there; you might as well take advantage of it all as much as you can.

Nikon Non-AI, AI, AI’D, AIS…. oh my. Part 1.

The year 1959 was a pretty momentous year for Nikon.  That was the year they introduced their Nikon F professional SLR and with it the F style mount for their lenses.  Fast forward to today and Nikon continues to use the same F style mount on their current lenses.  That is a pretty impressive accomplishment in a photographic world where such consistency is sometimes hard to find.  That isn’t to say the F mount is exactly the same as it once was.  There have been modifications to the mount over the decades to reflect the evolution of SLR camera technology.  That is where this Codex entry comes in, to help you – the consumer and avid photographer – sort through the varieties of F mounts available and to understand the compatibility issues that may arise with each.


We will begin here because this is where Nikon began.  The original Nikon F mount is referred to as a non-AI mount (AI being short for auto-indexing).  Non-AI Nikon lenses relied on a metal flange attached to the barrel of the lens just forward of the mount to couple with a pin protruding from the meter prism on the camera.  As the aperture ring is turned, the position of the flange changes thereby changing the position of the pin coupled to it, which in turn informs the meter of the selected aperture.  Additionally these lenses had to be “indexed” when mounted on these early cameras which involved rotating the lens first to the smallest aperture and then to the widest.  This action informed the camera of the fastest possible aperture of the lens being mounted, insuring proper metering.

Nikkor 50mm f2 H Nippon Kogaku 3

The smooth face of a Nikon non-AI mount is its distinguishing feature. The metal flange used for meter coupling can also be seen in the center of the image.



Nikon refined the F mount in 1977 by introducing the AI modification to their lenses.  This took the form of a ridge cut into the previously smooth face of the lens mount.  The cuts produced tabs that coupled with a small metal or plastic tab on the body of the camera, achieving the same purpose as the metal flange/pin combination of the previous non-AI mount but without the need for manual indexing.  It is worth noting that most AI Nikon mount lenses still included the metal flange making them backwards compatible with previous Nikon cameras.

Nikkor 35mm f14_1

Notches cut into the mount of an AI Nikon lens allow it to couple to the meter in the camera.

Nikkor 35mm f14_2

Another look at the AI mount showing the various cuts made into the lens mount as well as the continued presence of the coupling flange seen on earlier non-AI mounts.


An AI’d lens mount is a Nikon lens that began life as a non-AI mount and was later converted to an AI mount.  This could be done in a couple of ways.  One method was to send the lens to Nikon who would replace the aperture ring with an updated version (complete with metal flange for non-AI cameras and a second smaller aperture scale located beneath the main scale).  This would make the lens functionally indistinguishable from a true AI lens, the only difference being the change was applied to an older lens.  The second method involved everyone other than Nikon – camera repair stores to the guy in his garage – manually cutting their own notches into the lens mount to replicate the AI notches.  This home modification was a rougher solution than the job done by Nikon but could be as functional.


The AI-S modification is a small footnote in the progression of the F mount.  Nikon AI-S lenses have a small semi-circular notch cut into the base of the lens mount which allowed certain metering modes on the Nikon N2000, N2020 and F4.  Later cameras did not need this modification.  So unless you own one of these three Nikons and use automatic metering, there is no difference between an AI and an AI-S lens in terms of compatibility.  AI-S lenses still included the AI ridge and many also had the metal flange from the non-AI era.

Nikon 100mm f28 series e_2

When shopping for lenses, AI-S lenses tend to sell for slightly higher rates over AI lenses.  This is due to the fact that AI-S lenses tend to be newer and sometimes enjoyed improved modifications to aperture, optical or coating designs.


AF stands for auto-focus and, despite marking an incredible change in camera and lens technology, remained based on the same F mount.  Yes, a Nikon AF lens will mount just fine to your 1979 Nikon F.  You won’t have coupling with your meter (as AF lenses do not have the necessary metal flange on the barrel), but the lens will otherwise function just fine.  Nikon AF lenses still retain the AI ridge as well as the AF-S cut in the mount, making them fully backwards compatible with the appropriate cameras.  AF lenses have two additions: the first is a series of electronic pins in the mount which communicated various information to the camera, and the second is a coupling for the auto-focus motor.

Nikkor 28-105mm f35-45D_2

The AF mount introduces electronic contacts for communicating information between lens and camera seen in the lower left as well as a coupling for the auto-focus motor.


The only way to tell an AF-D lens apart from a standard AF lens is to read the aperture information printed on the lens barrel; the letter D will be printed after the maximum aperture. For example, a lens may read “Nikkor 70-210mm f3.5-4.5 D”.  The lens mount itself remained virtually unchanged from the previous AF mount.  Nikon AF-D lenses have better compatibility with the matrix metering modes of modern cameras.  Subsequent Nikon AF lenses dropped the “D” from the lens barrel but continued to include all AF-D features.


The D after the maximum apertures signifies the AF-D mount.


AF-S lenses incorporated a new type of auto-focus motor in the lens itself, as opposed to the camera body where it was usually located.  They are otherwise identical to AF-D and still retain the AI and AI-S modifications.


AF-G is the latest modification to the Nikon F mount.  AF-G lenses lack a mechanical aperture ring on the lens, relying on control via the camera body to manipulate aperture.  Since AF-G is still a Nikon F mount, you can mount an AF-G lens on any old Nikon camera but unless that camera possesses the ability to electronically control aperture, you will have to do all your photography at the maximum aperture of the lens, which is just as well since AF-G lenses also lack the metal flange and the AI ridge for metering on those cameras as well.  Some AF-G lenses also cast smaller image circles appropriate for cropped frame DSLR’s and won’t cover a 35mm frame.  So, while the lens remains mountable on virtually every Nikon SLR ever made, significant compatibility issues may arise.


The lack of an aperture ring means no manual control of the lens aperture on older pre-AF Nikon cameras.


That covers most of what you need to know Nikon mounts on the lens side of things. Coming up next: a discussion on the practical usage of these lens on the wide array of Nikon bodies available.

My Kingdom for a Voice

You shouldn’t read this article. There will be no happy endings or satisfactory resolution. It poses problems without solution, and offers you no advice whatsoever. Among the wildfire of online articles that claim to guide you safely through artistic turmoil soothed and unscathed, I am interested only in fanning the flames. The problem, you see, is that I have no voice. My photography is completely bereft of a unique style, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

This might not seem like a terrible thing; just keep shooting until I figure it out, right? At least that’s what every photography blog on the internet tells me to do. “Go out there and shoot everyday, kiddo. You’ll find your style like I found mine. Eventually.” Well, I’m tired of waiting for eventually to come. Not having a vision for my photography feels like writing a book with nothing to say. Without a point, I won’t even get started. I crave direction and with a whole store full of cameras at my disposal it’s hard not to get distracted.



Pictured above: girl distracted


In my writing I never have to think much about my voice. I realized early on that any narrative I wrote always came out with a lighthearted and optimistic tone, even when everyone died in the end. The thought that I could choose and shape my voice—or style—over time was not something that occurred to me. As I’ve traveled further down the photography rabbit hole, however, I’ve found that it isn’t quite that simple. With many different looks and styles available to me, I am able to make a choice. I usually like being able to choose (and I’m a rather choosy person) but having this much freedom is almost stifling.

Luckily though, there are as many potential mentors for me at Blue Moon as there are cameras to learn. I’ve started looking more and more at my coworkers’ work. Of everyone at the store, I probably most discuss my search for style with Jake. As many of you know, Jake recently delivered an entire lecture on his work, process, and style, which you can read here. He told me one day he was going to teach me large format and while my first thought was “great, another film type to distract me from my self-discovery”, it is a format I have ended up really enjoying. After a few months of shooting 4×5 though, most of the work I’m producing now looks suspiciously like Jake’s. Oops.


Jake Shivery

The quintessential Jake Shivery.


Now, Jake has style. There’s a mood his photographs capture that is hard to overlook or recreate. He occasionally dismisses this as “taking the same photograph over and over” but that isn’t the case. While I (unconsciously) mimic some key aspects of his portraiture work, my photographs will likely never be mistaken for a Jake Shivery; there’s a mysterious element in his work that I can’t quite capture. The one photograph of mine that comes the closest to his is probably my favorite piece of my own work so far, which is telling. Clearly I like Jake’s style, but it’s Jake’s, not mine.



4×5 Self Portrait, from the Not Quite Shivery Series


Naturally, both respect and the desire to be an original motivate me to stay away from straight mimesis of a mentor’s work. But there’s something else that pulls me away from enrolling completely in the Jake Shivery school of photography: I want to do more than large format portraiture. It’s important that someone does it, and does it well, but I have too many interests pulling me in different directions. I’d never have the self-discipline it takes to focus on one camera, one film type, and one subject area.

Picking one thing and sticking with it has never been my forte. By the time I entered high school I’d been playing the clarinet for six years, but I was bored. I decided that what I really wanted to do was play the oboe. My director warned me that switching instruments could be detrimental to my clarinet skills, but I was determined. Soon, I added the alto sax, as well. I even added the baritone for one marching season. I had a great time with them all, but by senior year I’d lost control of the finely tuned muscles that helped make me proficient on the clarinet; I left high school a weaker clarinetist than I was when I started middle school. There go my chances of being a concert clarinetist. If I’m honest with myself, I can image something similar happening with my photography.



Learning large format while shooting my AE1


I know I get distracted. I know that, after a year or two or maybe even six, I’m going to want to do something different. If I focus on portraits now, I’m certain that in a few years I’ll never want to take another portrait again. And what then? Will I put all this effort into building my image and my style just to eventually and inevitably have to start all over again when I get bored?

Style takes discipline. And it’s my fear that, at the end of the day, style might be a limitation. Even the most loose and carefree of photography blogs on style, the ones that tell you to go forth and shoot anything and everything, do warn you that eventually you’ll have to choose. One day you’ll have to commit to a camera, a film type, a subject, a composition, something, or you’ll never be taken seriously as a photographer. They all sound just like my high school band director.

But there might be another way. One day at the scanner, I heard Jake walk up behind me. “Are you scanning Faulkner’s work?” he asked. I was. “You want a lesson about style, you get it from Faulkner. It doesn’t matter what camera he touches, his photographs always look like his.”

That’s certainly true. In the same way that I can spot Jake’s handiwork from several feet away, I can recognize almost anything by Faulkner with no more than a passing glance. His photographs can be so varied—taken with a wide range of cameras, film types, film sizes, and subject matter—and yet all recognizably similar, like the same refrain played in a different key. Faulkner’s approach to style is vastly different from Jake’s methodical process, and yet they are both easily recognizable. I thought Faulkner might have some insight on style that would help me shed light on my own, and so I asked him about it.



Self portrait by Faulkner Short


“Hey Faulkner,” I said one Saturday during whiskey basketball, “what’s your photographic voice?”

“Pee-wee Herman,” he said.

“I was not expecting that.” I wasn’t.

“I think humor is very important,” he continued. “I always like it when a photograph makes me laugh. Balance between form and content is important, but there also needs to be some element that grabs you—and humor is a good one.”

I asked him if he considers himself to have a style.

“I do… but I don’t know how to explain it to you.”

And neither do I. The adaptability of Faulkner’s style impresses me: it’s certainly less limiting than what I’d been doing, but more difficult to pin down. While I know one of his photographs when I see it, I’d be hard pressed to actually describe his style. Perhaps that underlying desire to capture the moments that make him laugh is what gives his photographs a consistent look. For him, style is less about limiting your scope and more about concentrating on a consistent thought.


Tallulah by Faulkner Short

Tallulah by Faulkner Short


When I first started thinking seriously about my style, I did it with a certain air of annoyance. Why even have a style? After all, it doesn’t necessarily seem to benefit me as an artist; the individual photographs I take are not better because they resemble other photographs I’ve already taken. From the outside looking in on the art world, style seems like a categorical tool that is helpful for those people who are not the artist. Jake takes large format portraits. Vivian Maier did street photography. That one wedding photographer you’re thinking about booking does macro detail shots, while the other one takes a lot of contrast out of her photographs in post-processing. If you want to be known for your photography, you need to make it easy for people, and that means having a style.

While the creative side of me wants to rebel against this whole idea and the underlying business aspect of art, I do understand why it has to be this way. If I want to make any kind of impact on the photography world I, too, will need to limit or concentrate my efforts in some way to make my work recognizable. And though this realization doesn’t quite help me find my style, it does help to know there’s more than one way to achieve consistency in photography. So next I suppose I’ll go out, and keep shooting until I figure it all out, or I’ll say to hell with it and just shoot what I want. If it ends up looking consistent, great. If not, well, I never really wanted to be a concert clarinetist anyway.

Interviewing Clarke Galusha

Interview with Clarke Galusha

Date: 9/3/2013

Where: Saraveza Bottle Shop and Pasty Tavern on N Killingsworth, Portland OR.

ST: So, I wanted to start at the beginning and ask those same questions that are always asked…have you always been interested in photography? Or were there other forms of art that you were interested in?

CG: Yes, I had an interest in photography at an early age. My brother is, or was, 6 years older. He was always an inspiration and an idol for me. He was a prolific painter and won all kinds of awards in high school and went on to study art in college.

He was the first person to put a camera in my hands. He saw in high school that I was struggling with other art forms, so he put a camera in my hand, probably right after high school.

I was working at Wolf Camera. It was a one hour lab. I was able to process all my 35mm film there and took it from there and eventually ended up going to art school, studying photography.

ST: Where did you attend art school?

CG: Louisiana Tech. How it happened was – I was living with this girl in Tulsa, OK, where I grew up. She moved to Louisiana to go to school and I followed her. I found out that Louisiana Tech had a BFA in photography, so I thought I might as well go for that. It turned out to be really awesome.

ST: So you were shooting with a 35mm camera?

CG: Yes. It was my father’s Nikon F that he gave my brother, and my brother gave me. There is some history to that camera.

So while I was at Tech, I was a somewhat older student and it wasn’t really an art school. There was myself and another guy who were really into the craft of photography. We had our own darkroom, were very close with the professors, and got keys to the building. But the biggest perk was being referred for a job with a local photographer, who lived in Monroe, about a half hour away.

I became an assistant for Deborah Luster for two years, while she was working on her project called “One Big Self, Prisoners of Louisiana.” She made portraits and printed them on painted aluminum, so they looked like tintypes. So most of my job was creating the plates.

ST: What was it like to work with Deborah Luster?

CG: Seeing her multi-year dedication to her one project of photographing the prisoners and how much involvement went into it was fascinating. She also gave thousands of prints back to the prisoners. Some of those prisoners hadn’t had pictures of themselves for many years, and she was able to give those to the prisoners. Then they could send them to their family, which had a big impact for those families. But just being involved with a working photographer, it’s really nice to see how much effort, love, and dedication it takes to pull off a project. I feel like I owe a lot to her.

A wet plate portrait of Clarke and Christie by Deborah Luster.

A wet plate portrait of Clarke and Christie made by Deborah Luster.



When we were leaving Louisiana, Deb was finishing her prisoners project and starting to work on her next project. She had just learned the wet plate process, and I was about to get married. Debbie shot our wedding invitation photo as an ambrotype. At the time I had no idea what the process was all about. I think that may have planted the seed of making Tintypes.

ST: What were you working on personally?

Well, I met Christie, who is now my wife. I lived in a little rental home in the “ghetto,” and she would walk around with me. And we got invited to neighbors’ family reunions, BBQs and things like that. I walked by all the time, and back and forth to school. My neighbors and I got to know each other. I didn’t try to take their photographs the first day we’d meet. I was eventually able to get some really intimate pictures. I also spent a lot of time shooting Christie. My senior show was shots of her in large format.





ST: After graduation- how did you end up coming to Oregon?

CG: In 2003 I graduated, got married, my brother hanged himself, and we moved to Oregon. We wanted to get out of the south, both of us did. I had a best friend up here, and my brother had lived here and in Olympia. So I came up here and had a friend who was working for the Willamette Week and did some work with him. But, really I just didn’t pursue anything artistically for years while I ran away from dealing with my brother’s suicide and not processing it. I really didn’t do much photographically from 2003-2008.

Looking back, I was really successful photographing my neighbors, and family reunions, and senior portraits and thought I had life figured out. I was 27 or something. And having my brother die, and moving to a new city, where every other person is an amazing artist. You know, being overwhelmed. It was weird to have this 7 or 8 year hiatus and then just come back to it and try to find myself- it has been an experience.

ST: Nothing seems forced about anything that you do, or have done. It’s nice and refreshing.

CG: Thank you. I do struggle with that. I think if I were to push harder or have more deadlines…well maybe it’s a double edged sword because having the deadline of the Newspace show really got me to make this body of work. When I don’t have a deadline I tend to get lazy.

In 2009, I kind of started picking up photography a little more. When Christie got pregnant with Jasper, I really started shooting more. I started taking classes at Newspace. That first year that I was a member of Newspace – where they have an annual juried show – I entered the show with ten of the images I had taken of my rural neighbors in Louisiana and ended up winning the big prize – a solo show.

Clarke's earlier work from Louisiana.

Clarke’s early work from Louisiana.



ST: How did you decide on your subject matter for the show?

CG: Well, so, I won, and I was overwhelmed. I started taking classes at Newspace: I took a lighting class, I took a Photoshop class and some others, and started shooting again.

The original project that I had in mind for the show was to document my elderly neighbors in NE Portland. I had a horrible time getting into these peoples’ houses. They weren’t as open and friendly as the Southern folks.

I actually got a Hasselblad 500 CM from Jake at Blue Moon and was very down to once again go out and document my neighbors. I wanted to get in their houses because a lot of their houses were stuck in the late 1960s, early 70s. But I had a lot of trouble doing that, so I tried to do a landscape project. But there were no people in it, so it didn’t really do anything for me.

I was at the end of my rope and didn’t know what I was going to do for the show that was due in three months. I had to have my show to Newspace by the end of October 2012. I had to fill up 120 feet of wall space with work. So I decided to look up tintypes in Portland and found Ray Bidegain and there was this instant connection. I took a tintype workshop with him at the end of August 2012, and he agreed to be my mentor.

ST: How did your subject matter come about or develop? Why kids?

CG: I think I wanted to photograph kids because Jasper was just born, and I had all things children on my mind. I’m the youngest of 17 cousins, and all of my neighbors growing up were older. I never experienced kids so much. I was overwhelmed by how brilliant and amazing they are when they are so small. Jasper was going to this awesome playschool, and I just wanted to make portraits of all of the kids there. So that is where I started recruiting kid models. I took tintypes of Jasper and his friends and some of the other playschool kids. It turned out that Chris Bennett’s kid was starting there, so I photographed his son. It just kind of snowballed.

ST: Your tintypes are very unique, and I’ve never seen anything quite like them. So, I wanted to talk about your technique with the strobe lights. Can you talk about that?

CG: Ray Bidegain was a huge help with this. When I first told him that I wanted to shoot kids, he said that would be really rough, that I would have to shoot older kids or get strobes. The day that I learned how to create tintypes from him, my wife and son Jasper came and modeled. He was two-and-a-half at the time, and we did three tintypes, and you couldn’t even make out that he was a kid. He was a blur. So I knew I had to get some strobes.

Clarke's son Jasper, when he decided he must use strobes when photographing children.

Clarke’s son Jasper, without strobe light.

Portland has an awesome wet plate family, and Ray is part of that, so he introduced me to a couple of other guys. A few of them were using strobes, so I was able to pick their brains. I started by shooting Jasper at home. Something about it worked. The second-hand tripod that I got could only be lowered to a certain height, so I had to be shooting down at the kids somewhat. Something about them looking up worked, too. I also didn’t direct any of the kids to smile or do anything. I just had them sit there and be themselves.

I had two weekends where I was able to shoot in Ray’s backyard. His younger daughter, Emogene, recruited the neighbors, their friends, and her friends. She was awesome. I had two weekends with five or six appointments each day, so that was 12 kids. And I think those were some of the best shots I’d made. Ray sometimes talked with his neighbors or checked out the tintypes but gave me full access to his darkroom, and I had my strobes set up and my backdrop in his backyard. It was a grueling, ether-induced day. I think I shot almost 250 tintypes in six weeks, just to get the 42 for the show.

After I had said, “I don’t need any more kids,” I just kept getting emails and requests from parents. So I started Tintype Portland.

ST: That’s pretty awesome.

CG: I had 14 months to come up with this show, and here I was in August, just coming onto this new process. But that whole year was awesome. I’m really glad I had that year because I went through so many stages of growth and reconnected with myself again.

ST: That’s understandable. It was probably built up from the years that you were dormant, right?

CG: Yes. I had just gone to Italy, and I won a solo show, and I was having a son. It was a re-birthing.

I learned at the end of August how to make tintypes, shot 59 kids in six weeks, and put up 42 tintypes.

Clarke Galusha's solo show at Newspace.

Clarke Galusha’s solo show at Newspace.

ST: I think it’s in their eyes; they really glow.



CG: I mean, there is something about the catch lights of the reflectors in their eyes. But it’s more than that–it’s just kids. The process ages everybody, but when you have a four-year-old on a tintype, looking straight into the lens, and it’s super sharp, it’s intense.

ST: Your strobe setup really allows you to shoot any time of day and virtually anywhere.

CG: It does; it is nice. I love the immediate satisfaction thing. It’s kind of like digital, in that you are getting something right away. But it definitely is not digital.

I don’t have a darkroom, well, a traditional darkroom, or running water or a drain, but you are able to complete the process that way. And you can do it on location because of that.

ST: Do you have any plans to explore other subject matters in the future?

CG: I think I will be sticking with photographing kids for my business.

So, personal projects that I really want to do–I have always really wanted to shoot some of my clients at Cascadia. There is a lot of red tape involved in that because they have mental health diagnoses, and I work there or have worked there. So, there are their rights and what you can actually do with those photos. In the back of my mind, I think it was part of me wanting to go back to working there.

ST: You are offering workshops on making tintypes now; is this correct?

CG: Yes, it is on my website. I teach one or two people at a time to make tintypes, which is how I learned, by going to Ray’s house for six or seven hours. I think it’s really fun. I’ve been doing it for a little over one year, and I am still amazed, obsessed and surprised by it all. It is still really magical. I’ve done three sessions so far independently. Ray and I also taught a class at Reed College which was over two evenings. I love sharing the process with other people.

Did we cover everything?

ST: We did, but I just like hearing you talk. Thank you for sharing everything.