Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Many photographers have influenced my own interests. One, in particular, is Michael Fatali.


I highly, highly recommend checking out his website. In addition to fantastic photographs, made the old fashioned way, Fatali posts field notes for all his work so you can get an idea of the trouble he goes to to get some of these fantastic images.

His field notes include the amount of time he waited for just the right light. This, I have finally learned (after all these years) is the great secret of all great landscape photographers: patience. My own shot of Sahallie Falls was something I conceived of months earlier and waited until I could get up there while there was still snow on the ground and I had clear sky for good light down in that canyon. And, I've made several trips up into the three sisters wilderness to a spot I've already staked out in hopes of getting the perfect shot of a rising moon over the sisters at sunset. So far, it has elluded me. Photographers like Fatali and others who preceded him (Ansel Adams, for example) understood the importance of planning and patience. Yep, sometimes you get lucky. But the truly great photographers know what they're looking for before they start looking.

This image is Angel Arch and was taken in the canyon lands of Utah where Fatali lives. It was taken with an 8x10 view camera on Extachrome and printed by hand on Lifochrome paper (what used to be known as Cibachrome.) He makes prints up to 30" by 40" or bigger by request, in limited editions. It took two days for the light.

This next image is called Living Dunes and was also taken in Death Valley. For this shot, Fatali waited 5 days.

And this image is Spirit Stones, also Death Valley. 3 Days waiting.

His field notes on his work are one of the things I find particularly appealing about him. Many photographers, including Fatali, will list their film choice, exposure records, darkroom notes, etc. But he is one of the few who keeps track of how much time he invests in waiting for just the right shot.

All of Fatali's work has a soft, dreamy quality to it. Most are shot at sunrise or sunset, during that brief window of opportunity when the light is just right. Often, that window is only open for a few seconds.

First Entry

This is my first entry and, since it's for a class, I'll leave my personal comments and usual rantings to myself. I was a complete boob today and left all my handouts on the table in the lab, so without my list of entry items to refer to, I'll just say a few words about myself. I am a non-traditional student returning to school after spending some time in the big, bad world. I graduated from HS in 1977 and attended one year at Idaho State where, I studied theater. My big dream was to be an actor. It didn't take me long to figure out that it doesn't really matter how much education you have, to get work as an actor you still have to audition. If you can do the role, you've got the job. So, when I ran out of money for school, I joined the Air Force. I spent 21 years on active duty and retired in January of 2003. I've traveled around the world and taken 1000s of photographs, mostly with 35mm slide film. I've just recently replaced all my 35mm film gear with a Nikon D200. I think I'm finished with 35mm film. But I do have a 4X5 press camera (A Crown Graphic made in 1947) which I use for landscapes mostly.

This one is Sahallie Falls, just up the road from Springfield. I took this last winter with my 4X5 on Velvia 100F and then scanned it with an Epson V700 film scanner at 1600 dpi.

Anyway, this is the kind of stuff I prefer to do, but I'm easily distracted by shiny things so my camera seems to point wherever I see something I think is interesting. Working with the 4X5 and working with the D200 are two entirely different things. It's like the difference between a sports car and a truck.