I Went for a Walk: Early Spring

•February 14, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted. With holidays, flu running amok and among us, and other things, I have not had a moment to spare.

The last public photo show I did until this month was probably ten years ago. I decided that was too long. I had too much work that no one had seen and a lot of old work that few remembered. So I decided to show. Better yet, I decided to show with my daughter. We have a small father-daughter photo duet on view. I’d rather promote her work than mine at this stage of my life.

I think she is an excellent photographer. In 2014, she went on a year long mission trip to eleven countries. Each month was a different country, culture, and challenge. In Swaziland, she built buildings for a children’s home. In Thailand she and her team tried to persuade young girls to leave sex trade. In Nepal they work village to village to persuade the people not to sell their relatives into slavery.

It is a tough world out there folks. Not to get on the soapbox too much here, but anyone who thinks this country is bad really is ignorant of the struggles a very large majority of the world go through daily.

She took photos of the year with a smartphone and a tiny Fuji all-weather camera. They show a lot of personal depth and growth. As the year progressed she abandoned the tourist shots for the intensely personal ones of the people she met.

But I digress. I’ll post images from the show. If you are in the Atlanta area, take a trip to Smyrna and to Rev Coffee Roasters, one of the best coffee shops in the metro area. Our photographs are hanging the entire month of February.

What I intended to share here are some pretty pictures.

You don’t always have to be socially conscious; I think “woke” is the latest term for being aware of the struggles here and in the world. The word does not imply action, merely being aware.

Okay, but it is an early spring in Atlanta. Flowers are blooming and it is not even the middle of the month of February. Temperatures have been on a roller coaster; seventies one day, forties the next.

Jonquils and daffodils are blooming. There is an ornamental tree full of pink blooms. I saw it the other day while driving home. I thought I’d grab a snapshot of it with the community center in the background.

When I got in close, I could see hundreds of honey bees gathering, working, bloom to bloom. It was as if they’d never seen so many blooms before in their little worker bee lives… which is probably true, they hadn’t. Worker bees don’t have much longevity. If bees get excited, I think they definitely were. So I got in amongst ’em. Crazy, right?

A couple people walked up. One guy came pretty close and asked me what I was photographing. Then he saw the bees and quickly backed away and headed to his car.

An Asian woman and her mom approached. They spoke no English. She wanted a photo of them together with the tree and the geese which were grazing there in the park. A couple of motions later, she handed me her iPhone, also with no English written, and I managed to hand her back a couple memories.

The bees did not bother me at all, and believe me, I swell up like a watermelon if stung. I did not care. I was in the zone, so to speak, and the thought did not cross my mind until now. I was just happy to see some sign of warmth. The honeybees are even better.

They were darting here and there. There was no way I could catch them. So I had to anticipate where they would be. Still, I probably took a hundred exposures to get a half dozen images that were half way decent enough to share.

Pesticides have decimated them. But that day, there were hundreds in the tree. The groundhog was right. It’s an early spring.



•December 24, 2019 • Leave a Comment
Warrior Guitar

(This began as a personal note to a friend’s son.  My friend and his dad died in 2014.  Holidays are especially hard on us who remember someone whom we’ve lost to death.  His son enjoyed this so much I decided to change a few names in it, to protect privacy, and to publish it. Maybe you will enjoy it, too. The guitar is very real and the story is true.  It’s a story of generosity.)

Christmas is the season of giving and the season of remembering.

James is my best friend. He died in 2014 and I miss him today. Samuel, his son, caused me to remember him today. He wanted a story to recall his dad. Here you go, Samuel. I’ll share it with a few others who knew him well, or who know this story, but not in a general post. You’ll see in the tags.

I’m not sure exactly sure when James and I became friends. It was definitely guitar and Jesus that brought us together. He was one of the best guitarists, especially electric guitarists, I personally knew. He could do anything, but he made the guitar sing. Bluesy style best describes it, maybe. He was a definite Rocker but he played acoustic equally as well. Besides guitar, he could play pretty much any kind of musical instrument. His basement was a kind of musical museum.

We were both at the same church. I was impressed with his playing and I just introduced myself to him. I liked him when I met him. He was a party animal. He adored fireworks, as you well know. He lived on the edge. He was brutally honest. He did not put up with foolishness. He could discern character more quickly and deeply than anyone I knew. He was crude. He offended some people who did not understand him, but he loved them deeply as well. He’d say about someone or something, “I smell bullshit. I can smell it a mile away.” And darn if he was not right. Consistently right. He was “all in” all the time. His faith was almost 100% from the heart, not the head, not much at all there. That’s not to say he wasn’t smart or that he did not think about things, but the heart is where his base of operations was located.

I spent time in his basement with him and his guitars. He’d hand me one. “Here, play this.” He gave me a couple, sold me a couple, same price he bought it for, plus $5.00 “finders fee” he called it. Which usually meant it was at 80-90% discount.

He claimed to be able to sniff out guitar deals. He said God led him to guitars. I believe God did, because of what James did with them. It was the most remarkable thing I ever saw.

He’d tell me, “I got the feeling. I smell a guitar.” I laughed the first time he told me that. Then a day or two would pass and he’d call me and tell me, “Guess what I found at the pawn shop today.” Made me want to say bad words. It used to irritate the fool out of me because he would come home with some outrageous guitar he’d get for just a few dollars. Most of us who wish for those kinds of guitar deals, maybe, just maybe will find a once in the lifetime deal, but James would find them every few weeks. Amazing. I loved just watching the man go about his miracles. It was almost always a miracle deal with God behind it somewhere. I had to retool my ideas about ministry.

James was the most generous man I ever met. When I was trying to join the worship team at Cumberland Community Church, he supported me and went to bat for me and another friend, when the leader did not want us anywhere near the worship band. James hardly knew me, and after years of acoustic guitar I was just starting to play electric. He told me, “Acoustic and electric are not the same instrument.”

He gave up his time on Saturday nights to mentor and tutor me and our other friend in electric guitar so we could be part of CCC’s team. He’d say, “I don’t want you to suck while you are playing on stage with me.” He’d laugh, but I kind of think he as dead serious. He was a relentless teacher and in your face constantly. He’d tell me, “That sucks. Do it again. Do it like this. Do it over. Do it over.” Besides church we played in another band together.  He was the same there.  Get as close to perfection as you can.   I learned more from him about guitar than anyone I’d ever played with or studied.

Generous. Whatever it was, he gave it away; time, money, guitars. Especially guitars. Which brings me to the Warrior guitar pictured above.

I was teaching guitar to the young kids at church. They were anywhere from 7 to 11 or 12 years old. Some were teenagers too at times.  Some of them had physical problems in hand or wrist. I liked the challenge. They loved their instrument, but didn’t want a standard guitar class. You never know with kids, or any guitar student really, if out of the many who say they want to play, which ones will be the ones who stick with it. Who will be the musician, who has the fire?

Some of the students could not afford guitars. I think I counted maybe 30 or 40 kids or so who went through my beginner class over about 10 years. Probably 20% of them could not afford a guitar, or at least their parents told me that.  But it didn’t matter if they could or could not afford it. James would always find a good guitar for them to learn to play. For those who could not really afford the instrument, he gave them “loaners”, but many of the loaners never returned. I recall only one or two people who ever paid for their guitars, but James repeatedly would find guitars for the kids. He’d tell me, “You do the lessons, because I can’t stand to teach guitar to beginners, but you let me find the guitars.” So, we partnered. I’d tell him about a student, and it wouldn’t even be a week before he’d have a nice guitar for the kid.

There was a U.S. Army officer who also attended church with us. I’m keeping names private as much as I can and still relate the story. This was after 9/11 and his troops were in Afghanistan. This officer played guitar too. We were talking one Sunday, and he told me how some of the soldiers overseas missed playing guitar. I told him about James, made the introduction, and left it at that.

A few weeks later, James told me he was shipping some guitars over to Afghanistan. He’d gotten it worked out with my Army friend, who had gotten it worked out with his superiors. Off the guitars went to the other side of the world. I can’t remember now, but I probably high-fived him, good man attaboy, and all that. Again, this kind of thing was not unusual for James. It’s just what he did. It was his ministry.

I did not think any more about it, but one day James called me. “You are not going to believe what I found at the pawn shop.” Here we go again, I thought. Well this was the golden one. Literally.

He related the story as I recall it, like this: “I got a call from one of the pawn shops I do business with and the owner asked me if I knew anything about Warrior guitars.” [They are custom built here in Rossville, Georgia. Quite expensive. I knew what they were.] “I told him yes. Well he told me he had one at his shop, just came out of pawn and asked me if I was interested in it. I asked him how much. I thought he said $750.00. That would have been a good price. I could sell it for double or triple maybe, so I told him I’d come pick it up. Has a case too. Do you know how much I bought it for?I told James, “I cannot imagine (thinking “you bum”). “I got it and the case for $75.00. Seventy-five dollars!

I was floored. I went over to his house. The thing was an absolute gem. Gold metal flake beauty. Had that sword/cross at the 12th fret. They have a sound similar to a Fender Strat. James played it. I played it. Glorious barely describes it.

Samuel, when your dad died, your step-mom asked several of his closest friends if they wanted a guitar of his. Your dad had already set aside the cream of them for you, Big Red [a Gibson ES-335] and others. I told her, I did not need another guitar, that I wanted a story instead. The Warrior was the best story and kind of the pinnacle of what your dad did with his guitars, and how he blessed others with them.

It’s just wood and strings, and but for the grace of God, it would still be a tree in the forest. However, I really do think that your dad had honored soldiers in the mountains of Afghanistan with guitars he found at pawn. I don’t know what they were or how much they cost. We had only one conversation I recall where we talked a little about not shipping something like a Martin over there. That was kind of an extreme example he used. Kind of obvious, because they were too precious to risk in a war zone and it would be unfair to put that burden on a soldier. I don’t know if he even considered it. I believe he might have, though.

Whatever, I think the Lord rewarded his generosity in a symbolic way; the Warrior guitar for $75, worth much, much more than that, in exchange for other guitars sent freely and generously to American warriors on the backside of the world, with no thought of reward for himself.

Recall this story, Samuel, when you think of your dad. They say that friendship is multiplied to others by the different perspectives of the friend they share. Each of your dad’s close friends saw a different side of him and we each appreciated him in a special way.  Enjoy this story.

Bill Hunton

Merry Christmas, 2019

When Does It Stop Being a Photograph? Part 3

•December 19, 2019 • Leave a Comment

This will be short.

I think the answer to the question, “When does it stop being a photograph?” is offered at the very creation of the image itself.

If I never intended the image I captured on film or sensor to be a verisimilitude of objective reality I observed, and if I intended from the very beginning to make it into something much more subjective and personal, then it really was never just a photograph. Only rarely are we satisfied with cold hard chemical or electrical reactions to light. We almost always insert our feelings into it. We are all disappointed when the photograph does not convey the emotion we felt.

So when Ansel Adams had his epiphany, and attached a red filter to the lens of his view camera, and created the negative of “Monolith: The Face of Half Dome,” he established for all time that photography truly is art at its very core. Mic drop.

I believe now that almost every photograph I ever made was more than just a record. I mostly wanted to show people what I thought about or felt about something, or how I related to it. I wanted to present “my point of view.”

Even if you take photographs by proxy, as the agent of a parent, maybe as a youth sports photographer or wedding photographer, there is an adult and a child somewhere, or a mother of the bride and the newlyweds who want you to capture the essence of their day. They expect you to see. I expect me to see also.

I’ve taken inventory and tax record photographs. Dull work. But when I take a photograph of my family, for example, then is never merely a cold, impartial record. I cannot take a photo of my granddaughter without it being personal. Even when I photograph real estate for sale, I still put myself into the art. I observe light and shadow, warmth and coolness, crispness and clarity, or a misty dream. I want romance in the staircase.

Today I am faced with over 25,000 images. I have arrived, within a few steps of my destination, and I have reached what I believe is every photographer’s realization, maybe lament: I have an irresolvable accounting problem; I have more photographs than memories.

Here’s a photography joke that I think illustrates the point. A photographer is walking down the sidewalk with his new baby in a stroller. (This is at a time when people were more social and lived more openly, less anonymously.) Two senior women (we used to say “elderly”), grandmotherly types approach him and ask to see his new child. They, of course are filled with awe and admiration. “So beautiful,” says one. “Just lovely,” says the other. To which the photographer replies, “That ain’t nothing, you should see the photographs!”

So I think my advice is photograph with all your heart, and try to convey how you feel and relate to the subject. I caution, don’t exchange subjective representations for the subject itself, especially when the subject is not a thing, but a person.

When Does It Stop Being a Photograph? Part 2

•December 10, 2019 • Leave a Comment
458-4599 was originally captured on 35mm color negative film.

Again, travel back in history after the invention of photography to a time where it was possible, but very difficult, to take equipment into the wild, or worse still, into war zones.

The main strength of photography is its ability to capture in great clarity and detail, an instant of reality, at least a snip of an event or person. The only boundary is the frame, which includes and excludes what the photographer observes before him/her.

The Crimean War in 1853 was the first conflict where photography was used to record armed conflict. Take a look at the photographs here. They are certainly different than the photographs from the World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam. They had an artistic style it appears, but I think that was because the emulsions were so very slow that the scenes had to be action free. Just 10 years later photography found its way to the battlefield, and more shocking images of the horrors of war were published. See these of the Battle of Gettysburg. Again, dead men need no encouragement to remain still for a picture.

Photography was seen as a means to graphically report events and people in a more realistic way than having an artist sketch. The photographer is artistic in the sense that he beholds the object, he composes the image, but his rendering is dependent on fairly complicated technology derived from the sciences. See the work of W. Eugene Smith (World War II) and Larry Burrows (Vietnam).

To be artistic requires heart, eye, brain, visual sense, and artistic sensitivity. To be photographic requires knowledge of chemistry, physics, and an understanding of light. Sensitometry is a relatively new science upon which photography is built. It will consistently predict how photographic emulsions respond; that is, by chemistry and physics. Here is the photographer’s aching dissonance: Am I artist or craftsman? I say who the hell cares?

Toward the end of the 1800s into the early 1900s, the bona fide art world did not consider photography serious. No photographer could produce a Van Gogh or Monet from little silver grains cooked in soup. The photographer’s hands did not brush or sketch, they merely aimed an apparatus. The chemistry was just more brew. They forgot that painters would create their palette from flowers and ground stone.

So a movement arose among photography. It was called Pictorialism. Pay attention to this word, because I’m about to land this plane. Pictorialism sought to justify photography as an art by applying ways of seeing and interpreting our world within accepted artistic practice. Check out these artists: David Octavias Hill, Julia Margaret Cameron, and others on this page. The Pictorialist period of greatest influence was from about 1850 to about 1915. Check out the history.

I have taken way too long. I hope you’re still with me.

When you take a photograph with your smartphone or camera and you apply filters and effects that are beyond those available with just the lens itself, or you apply enhancements to a photograph that are “way beyond” what natural law presents, but they are what you perceived and visualized, then you have applied Pictorialism. Add blur. Pictorialism. Saturate colors beyond the spectrum. Pictorialism. Van Gogh saw yellow at night. You see magenta at sunset.

If the original image is nothing more than the starting point in the process, and your vision extends beyond it, you are probably applying Pictorialism. The photograph is the raw material, and the final image is your art, your rendering, perception, and your idea about reality.

“Well”, you might say, “Ansel Adams photographed in black and white. That’s not reality either.”

In April, 1927, Ansel Adams ascended near Half Dome, the iconic symbol of Yosemite National Park. He created “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome” and that really started the whole photo-realistic school of photography, what we normally apply to family snapshots and even our artistic endeavors.

In 1935, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and six other San Francisco photographers founded the F64 Group. Their stated purpose was to create artistic photographs using available photographic technology as they thought it was intended; that is, to render whatever the subject in absolute clarity. Adams created structure around the process so it was no longer accidental. He called it his Zone System of exposure and printing. For decades, photography more or less followed suite, whether photojournalism, landscape, nature, whatever.

The antithesis to F64 is Pictorialism. The F64 photographers essentially said, let the painters, sketch artists, and others have their place and let photography do what it does best and let us create art from the result, and please call it art. F64 were the independent thinkers, wanting recognition on their art’s unique merits. Pictorialists perhaps wanted acceptance in established circles. It’s a different aesthetic anyway. I don’t know, I’m just spouting off.

But, I think we have come full circle. Our digital cameras and phones can create remarkable clarity and sharpness. What do we do with the photographs? In Pictorialist style, we add blur, balloons, hearts, garish, gaudy color, extremes of exposure with highlights washed out and shadow detail in the coal bin, etc. If you hear, “That looks just like a painting” about your photograph, congratulations you may be following the fine tradition of Pictorialism. Learning the tools to do that is very much art even if the final image is derivative.

If you like your photographs tack sharp and in color, then you may be a realistic disciple of F64 without even being aware of it. If you like black and white, then you may be on the abstract side of ideas. Go forth and set thy tripod in Ansel’s tripod holes.

I think the point of all this is, I can take frequent detours along my road to photographic discovery, and I can go to school wherever I like. I can call it art, hang it on a wall, and spout off in a blog about it. That is just fun.

The carousel horse was found in an abandoned amusement park.

When did it stop being a photograph?


When Does It Stop Being a Photograph? Part 1.

•December 9, 2019 • Leave a Comment
Bloody Mama was originally recorded on 35mm color negative film.

Let’s start in a typical way of discussing photography.

The history of photography started long ago. The term “camera obscura” was first used around 1604 (Camera Obscura – Wikipedia, 8 April 2002). As a DYI project, you can make a pinhole camera yourself. Poke a tiny hole in a board or piece of aluminum foil perhaps, and it must be very tiny, like a straight pin.

What the tiny hole “sees”, when light passes through it, is then projected to a surface opposite to it; a wall, for example. For you to see the projected image you need bright sunlight shining on the object. You must be inside a darkened room into which the image is projected through the pinhole onto the wall opposite. Your eyes must grow accustomed to the dark in order to see the image. Once that occurs, you will notice the image on the wall is inverted and reversed in relation to the scene outside. It’s like you are looking at the backside of reality, and upside down.

These are the same concepts used with a pinhole camera, and there are many people who enjoy this special kind of photography. All of it follows the same laws of physics that control light, optics, electricity, and even old school chemistry used by all cameras including your smart phone’s.

Back up and fast forward again. You had photographic emulsions come along. Coat light sensitive goo onto something else that will hold onto it. Expose the same stuff to light reflected from an object. Then slosh it around in some chemicals. You may end up with what is called a negative. Shine a light through it onto paper which also holds the light sensitive goo. Slosh it around some more chemicals. Wash it off. Let it dry. Those are the essentials of the modern analog camera, film, and chemistry to create a photograph.

Nicephore Niepce is believed to be the first person to ever make what we would call a photograph, using the process I described. He called it a heliograph meaning “sun writing”.

We’re still on the same time machine here. Pulling the lever forward and back can make you dizzy. Fast forward and pass a bunch more history and technology. (This is a blog and not a history course.) Now we see cameras and film become less bulky, more convenient, much faster and lighter. Names like Leica, Nikon, and Canon, Kodak and Fuji enter the scene. As quality and convenience increase, big wooden box cameras move off the stage of popularity, but with many exceptions. Then we see it surpassed by something totally different from analog capture, goo smeared media, and smelly chemistry.

We arrive at the Digital Age. You hardly need a traditional camera. Your smart phone is remarkable and multi-functional. Image capture and the fidelity to Nature is beyond comparison to what has gone before. You most likely have in your pocket or purse, more photographic power that was ever dreamed possible only a few years ago.

Moore’s Law predicts that quality and realism will double about every 18 to 24 months. Take note of the the three lens smart phone cameras just released.

Photography is now so convenient and so popular, everyone takes pictures, snapshots, photographic images, captures, etc., even my four year old granddaughter. There are special contests for smart photo photographs, and you can become creative with a number of effects and filters that are free or only a couple bucks to download. Young people will photograph weddings with smart phones and disposable cameras, and never question whether they need a professional.

Simply by applying a couple apps, you have now become a professional photographer or an artist. Bang! Just like that.

And that is the question and problem I want to consider. I grew up in the old school. So these questions and concerns exist in my world. They are probably not questions at all for the youngsters today, except for something I think I discovered a few weeks ago.

A clue is in the image at the top, photograph or not.

Part 2 is coming.

The Price of Admission

•November 11, 2019 • Leave a Comment

There are no photographs in this blog.

All text. Perhaps boring then. However, I did not have copyrights. I took some poor snapshots for my own reference. Had I posted them, they would have been of someone else’s intellectual property. I know how hard we work for money. I am sensitive to such things and observant of the law and the intent that people get compensated for their creative efforts, even when it seems many in the Ether do not seem to care about property rights.

Last week I went to the Capture Integration Photo Fest at Capture Integration, off 10th Street, Atlanta. Take a look at the link and the list of speakers, and then check out their individual websites.

I learned a lot. First, if you want to make real money in photography, that could support you and a family of 4, pay for the kids’ college and give you a decent retirement, your entry fee, the bare minimum you need just for one camera and lens is 10 grand. Check out Capture Integration’s products. Then add your lighting, computer systems, and software, marketing, etc. You will invest considerable capital in your start-up. Remember cash flow, too. You do not want to be investment rich but unable to handle day to day expenses.

The great thing about this level of equipment is that its professional level in every respect, and carries the expectation is that it lasts long enough to get a decent return on investment. None of this is hobbyist stuff you trade in for the next whiz-bang techno update.

The folks who presented at the Photo Fest are all making at least 6 figures or more per year. They have invested years in their craft, and developing lines of business. They spend money to make money. They have clients who are willing to pay, let’s say, $80,000 for a photograph.

One of the speakers pointed out that we price our work way to cheaply. If you cater to the art festival and tents crowd, then you get what that market will bear. If someone is dickering over $100 print, then you probably are in the wrong market.

I had friends who ran a lab near here. Steve and Lavern. Great people. Steve had been in the business for years and years. His customers were professionals mostly. I asked him one time about how I should price my work. What he told me amazed me at the time. He said, “Price it wherever you want to price it. Your price will determine your market and the kind of people you will deal with. The quality of your work will determine whether you belong in that market.” He also told me that people will pay a lot of money for sh**.

Talking tech and to put some of this in perspective, my “pro” camera is a Nikon D7500 delivering over 20mp, I have a couple entry level “backups” also delivering 20mp, if I shoot a full RAW file. My computer system has 8 gb memory. I have to turn things off to run Photoshop and Lightroom at the same time. I need a much bigger processor. I need the cash flow, and I need the investment.

Bare bones, minimum for the pro photographers who spoke is probably 40mp, medium format. A lot of them were talking 150 mp. One said a 1 GP (gigapixel) resolution. I recall that was for architectural photography. Consider the computing power necessary to process these image sizes. Consider the camera and lens quality necessary to produce it.

I saw wall size prints done on aluminum with every eyelash hair visible. I know that is possible with small format. I saw some of Louis Foster’s big prints he did with 5mp Nikon years ago when I worked for him as a contractor. That was also when 5mp was as big as it got. He was shooting events at the World Congress Center. I did shots of the seminars and speakers. However, in general you need the big capture to do the big prints. Think big scale and scale your equipment selections accordingly.

One person who spoke studied film for 7 years, and did graduate level work in art at NYU. That was before he took up photography. He travels the world now. He does architectural photography. His influences were black and white films from the 1940’s such as Citizen Kane, with its depth and lighting.

Am I envious of them? Not at my age. There’s no practical way I could start any of this now, and not really even when I first started shooting professionally as a side gig. These folks ain’t doing no side gig. However, does that mean there is not money to be made? There is still a lot of money to be made in the trade if you up your craft. I’m talking to the few I know who may read this post.

Next time CI does this seminar, I highly recommend you attend. They have locations throughout the United States.

My AA Days

•October 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment
Similarity is the sincerest form of flattery

I was so serious!

After a few years playing around with cameras I declared myself an artist and went about the joyous effort of copying my photographic heroes. I had yet to figure out that I was not them, that they lived in entirely different times, that what they did was to break new ground in uncharted territory.

I saw several prints by the famous landscape photographer Ansel Adams. I was inspired, actually beyond inspired. I wanted to see like Adams, I wanted to print like Adams. So I studied him. I was an AA disciple.

I bought all Adams’ books: The Camera, then The Negative, and The Print, and others. I bought his autobiography. My office at work chipped in and bought me the hardcover Yosemite and the Range of Light. It was an early printing, still very valuable today.

I studied Fred Picker’s Zone VI Workshop. I learned the Zone System of black and white photography. I went through all the training I could from books and experimentation. I was disciplined so I could do well being self-taught.

I wore out friends and family who could not understand why a simple family snapshot should be taken by a wooden 4×5 view camera. They endured my craziness.

I made treks to Yosemite. Figuratively speaking, I set up my tripod in Ansel’s tripod holes. It was a grand time!

Then one day something happened that changed my life forever. I was delivered from the mountain top.

I’ve told the story about hiking with my big, honkin’ 4×5 view camera, 25 pounds more of film holders, light meter, 10 pound tripod (I recently purchased a much lighter one), and other accessories. I’ll retell it briefly.

I was hiking in the north Georgia mountains. My mission was a set of waterfalls. I came to a 7 or 8 foot deep ditch with a stream flowing through it. To cross the gully, I had to navigate a single log bridge, heel to toe, or shimmy along. Too far to sling my beautiful equipment, too far and too dangerous to put everything on my back and cross the log, and too deep to climb down and up it’s sheer, wet dirt and underbrush covered walls. No left turn, no right turn, no place to go.

And I had diarrhea! I gave up, turned around, and dejectedly, I returned home.

I sold all my large format stuff after that, gave thanks for all that Adams and Picker had taught me, swore allegiance to Galen Rowell and actually went to one of his seminars, and ever since then I’ve been a devotee of light and small cameras when I photograph anything.

So these photographs from my 4×5 AA days are all I think are even worth looking at. The one at the top is made from a 4×5 inch Polaroid negative. Really a cool product. The ones below are visually self explanatory.

There is something very magical about large format – 4×5 inch and larger negatives and slides. The tones progress like heavy cream, all smooth and no blotches. They will make you forget the trouble you went through to get them.

However, there is also something more immediate and relational in small format cameras, both film and digital. Being very impatient and relational, it fits me. Find something that fits.


Technical Data: If you check the technical data from the images, they will all say the camera is a Nikon D7500. That is the camera I used to “scan” the negative. The actual camera for all 4×5 inch negatives was a cherry wood, 4×5 view camera. Lens, I recall was either a 150mm or 210 mm lens. I don’t recall the brand. Film for all except the image at the top was Kodak Tri-X.

(All images in all my blogs are owned by me, William D. Hunton. I pay my copyright dues, do my best to obey the law, and I keep all rights to all images I make to myself. You do not have the right to copy or use them for anything. My apology if this statement troubles you.)