The photographs in this series were taken by medium-format mechanical cameras using 120mm black & white negative film.  The cameras, as seen above, are the:   Mamiya C330 Twin-lens reflex (six lenses), Mamiya 6 rangefinder (three lenses), Hasselblad SWC (fixed lens), Hasselblad 500C/m SLR (six lenses) and either a Zeiss, Agfa or Balda folding camera.

Each camera has its own strong points.  For instance, the Mamiya C330 can use colored filters on the lower lens to adjust the film’s contrast while leaving the upper lens clear for viewing.  The Mamiya 6 is best for spontaneous, hand-held shots.  The Hasselblad SWC has the widest undistorted angle available.  The Hasselblad 500C/m system includes the 500mm Zeiss Tele-tessar lens for telescopic compositions and any of the folding cameras can be carried in a jacket


Archival Pigment Photographs

Archival pigment ink-jet printing is now the preferred method to output digital photographs. Exceptional detail can be maintained and they are extremely stable. Gelatin-silver prints are limited to the 20x24” darkroom trays, while pigment prints easily enlarge to 38 inches. Negatives are scanned and adjusted to match the original “darkroom” print. The photographer then inspects each print against a master proof. Pigment prints have a different surface to gelatin-silver prints but are almost identical.

Negative Film

Camera film did not vanish with the advent of digital photography and its popularity is more than nostalgic. 

A fine grained negative image is equivalent to a 500 megapixel digital one.  Scanned files have more than 600 megabytes of 16 bit information to work with.  A mechanical camera can take an eight-hour exposure in sub-zero temperatures.  In 100 years, a properly stored negative will not have changed.  Using film affects how you take shots.  By not getting instant playback while naturally wanting to conserve film, the photographer slows down and considers each shot differently from unlimited digital captures.

Gelatin-silver Fiber-based Prints

Images on the internet only hint at the clarity and detail of a fine-grain gelatin-silver print.  It’s ironic that companies like Ilford, Agfa and Kodak were just perfecting grainless film technology when the digital revolution arrived.

“When people visit my studio they eventually ask why I still take photographs using film.  I show them two prints of the same image.” 

“One is an inkjet print, which is extremely sharp, but the ‘ink’ of the print rides on the paper’s surface.”

The 170 year-old gelatin-silver process still sought out by collectors of black & white photographs.  The silver crystals embedded inside the gelatin of a ‘darkroom’ print have a rich depth and tonality.  Finally, when the gelatin-silver prints are toned and preserved with selenium,  they have unsurpassed richness and permanence.  It’s all about the feel of the final print.”

“After working with the same negative in a darkroom and digitally, the ability of Photoshop to adjust the image more precisely has tilted my focus to pigment prints, but it’s still gratifying get requests for the classic gelatin-silver ones” 


Two photographs installed in an urban planner’s residence in Boston.

Installation proposal for an office complex. Fifteen photographs eventually used.