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It's always nice when something you've imagined to be wonderful turns out to be as good or better.  My rather hurried trip to Athens earlier this month was just such an experience - we were mostly blessed with wonderful weather, people, food and sights (we did get one day of rain and a few unpleasant whiffs of chemical gas directed at a government protest).  Upon seeing the Acropolis for the first time, I was reminded of the fact that even great art is no substitute for reality.  As stunning as Ansel's Clearing Winter Storm may be, it just can't fully convey the grandeur of space and scale one gets from the "real thing."

In Athens, warm weather, wonderful skies and very few people made the visit to the ancient temples seem a very personal encounter, though I wish I had been able to do more photographically.  I had been forewarned the day before that officials would likely not look kindly on my carting a view camera around the site, so I was limited to whatever I could do with my little Nikon digital point-and-shoot.  Still, it IS a camera and I got a few things that could be very nice on a small scale.  Restrictions against "professional" cameras in various sites seem, sadly, to be becoming more and more common, and I'm giving serious thought to getting into a Mamiya 7 system. Lightweight, compact, big negative, great optics and not imposing enough to rattle the authorities.


Sig on clear
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Pogue/Ross Discussion!

On February 25th, technology writer David Pogue posted a thought-provoking commentary for the New York Times on Photoshop and photography and what makes a photograph?.  I sent a note to  him with some thoughts of my own, and David graciously gave me his permission to quote him in this newsletter and on my site.


Photoshop and Photography: When Is It Real?



In the March issue of Popular Photography magazine, the editor's note, by Miriam Leuchter, is called "What Is a Photograph?"

You'd think that, after 73 years, a magazine called Popular Photography would have figured that out. (Ba-da-bump!)


Actually, though, the editorial is about the magazine's annual Reader's Photos Contest. This year, in two of the categories, the winners were what the magazine calls composites, and what I call Photoshop jobs.


One photo shows a motorcyclist being chased by a tornado; another shows a flock of seagulls wheeling around a lighthouse in amazingly photogenic formation. Neither scene ever actually existed as photographed.


Now, in my experience, photographers can be a vocal lot. And a lot of them weren't crazy about the idea of Photoshop jobs winning the contest.


Read more.


Workshop Updates.

Death Valley - April 26-30: There are still a few spots left in The Ansel Adams Gallery's Alabama Hills and Death Valley field workshop.  There is a FULL MOON on April 28 so we'll have that glorious orb to grace the sky over rocks and dunes!  And yes - digital is fine!  Camping OK but not required.

Road Trip - September 20-25:  Just announced in the last newsletter, this "let's see where it takes us" field workshop of the Southwest's Four Corners region is already half full!  I've moved it out of main-stream summer to the fall so we should have fewer crowds to bump into and maybe even some fall color.  Northern New Mexico, Southern Colorado and, who knows, maybe some Utah and Arizona.  Check out the DETAILS!

In-between All the Above:  Other commitments allowing, I am available for 1-on-1 sessions and small groups - my place or yours.  Check out the Schedule and Openings page.


Missing Negatives?

In the course of rearranging some things in my darkroom I have come across a sheet of three 4x5 bw negatives of Mt. Whitney seen through an Alabama Hills arch.  Let me know if they are yours!

Darkroom Stuff:  New addition to the Store page on the site:

Temperature-probe tray clamp for the Zone VI compensating developing timer. It holds the probe either vertically or at a 30� angle and keeps the wire portion out of liquids.  Since the timer or parts are no longer available, keeping the connections dry may significantly extend probe life.

Tech Miscellany:

Airport Security Update.
Once again, I have taken 100-speed film half-way around the world and back with no trace of x-ray fogging!  I have stopped bothering to ask for any hand-inspection, and even after multiple scans I have not had any problems.  Security folks in Frankfurt did express some concerns about my 4x5 equipment and escorted me into a back corridor where they wiped-down my Arca-Swiss F-Field, my lenses and meter and grimly handed the wipes to another technician who ultimately found them non-threatening.
Processing Trouble?
Here's an open question for all of you.  Last year when I was photographing those wonderful hundred-year-old zinfandel vines for Ravenswood Winery, I opted to do the work with my Mamiya RZ.  This was mostly a matter of convenience and economy as I had no need for architectural controls. I decided also to use Fuji Acros 100 film since I had had good results with their then still-available 4x5 Quickload.  I wound up having several instances of air-bubble processing problems with the Acros roll film and wonder if anyone else out there has had similar trouble.  Several of the Ravenswood rolls showed decreased density spots at the edges of the film where air bubbles seem to have clung at the reel edges during development.  I use Patterson tanks and reels and also use a 60 second water presoak.  Up until now, I have thought this was some sort of fluke since I haven't had any trouble of this sort in probably 40 years - but it just happened again with a roll I did of the Acropolis - and this time I had made special efforts to jar any problem bubbles loose.  I'm wondering now whether it might be some inherent reaction between the Acros and Xtol.  I've now gone back to Tmax 100 for 4x5 and smaller.

Always remember, the "Oh! Zone" must be preserved!


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