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|Category:||Printing and Processing Labs|
Black and white brilliance at Focus - Ilford Photo's portrayed many photographers talents within the black and white photography genre.
There are those who take good photographs, and there are those who are masters of their art - those who can get inside the feel of a subject, be it a person, landscape or building. Ilford Photo caters for them all, and is committed to sharing the insights of great photographers with those who aspire to such heights. A case in point is Ilford Photo's bringing together at last month's Focus on Imaging exhibition four of the world's outstanding photographic talents.
Many of the world's most famous professional photographers built their reputations, not to mention their talent and outstanding artistic abilities, by working in the black-and-white genre - from Karsh, Adams and Avedon, to Bailey, Donovan, Parkinson, McCullin and the rest.
With the demand by such visual geniuses for the best possible renditions of their work, it is hardly surprising that the material of choice for most of them has been that produced by Ilford Photo.
Following this theme in the 21st century, four of the leading proponents of modern black-and-white photography who have aligned their own destinies to a belief in the purity of Ilford Photo film, paper and photochemistry - Dave Butcher, Philip Pankov, Tim Rudman and Andrew Sanderson - came together on the Ilford Photo stand at the Focus on Imaging 2007 exhibition to share their insights into the creation of monochrome masterpieces with visitors
Dave Butcher, or Dr David W Butcher, PhD, ARPS, FRSC, Cchem, to give him his more formal address, has a remarkable background in photography and imaging, including working for Ilford Photo for 21 years in such positions as photographic research scientist, technical service manager, regulatory affairs manager and project manager. He retired early from IlfordD Photo in 2002 due to back injury and to follow full time the photography he had been progressing for the previous 25 years.
While Butcher's subjects at Cambridge University were medicine and chemistry, he holds various European and US patents on the development of holography, so his understanding of utilising light for creating images is extensive. With his lifelong interest in walking, climbing and skiing, much of his photography has centred on these and directly related subjects.
His love of black-and-white work, which Butcher has followed since 1980, shines through everything he does, and is a big feature of his photographic Fine Art business which began in 2005, and his Gallery which went online last year. It is also seen in the many books, magazines and advertising campaigns to which he has supplied images and articles.
An aspect of Butcher's work which has occupied him for some time is that of using Ilford SFX 200, the film with extended red sensitivity which is just being reintroduced by Ilford Photo after a two-year absence. “Most of my landscape photography is with Ilford FP4+ 120 film and Mamiya-7 cameras,” he says, “however, I use SFX 200 for the striking effects it produces when foliage is producing infrared (in the spring and the summer when the sun shines!)."
The best effects are produced with a special filter (Ilford Cokin 'P' filter) which cuts off virtually all of the visible light, and so makes the exposure with just infrared light.
Without the filter, the film behaves much as HP5+ would if you rated it at ISO200. With the filter, it gives effects similar to using two filters at the same time: a deep red to darken skies and increase contrast with clouds etc, and a green to lighten any foliage giving off infrared light.
Philip Pankov is another master of his craft who, via his black-and-white photography and printing, has achieved that stroke of genius beloved of the greatest artists in combining the total depth and vibrancy naturally present in his subject while highlighting aspects and details which are usually missed by the casual observer.
Although only moving to Ireland from his native Russia ten years ago, Pankov's work immediately established him as a son of the soil - someone who sees, understands and relates completely to the smallest detail of his surroundings: an ability which usually requires a lifetime's experience of an environment, while his genius brings out the living texture of his subject and vividly communicates it to the viewer.
Pankov earned degrees from Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. He also studied photography at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art and Design. Despite his academic background, Pankov is very down-to-earth, both as a person and in his work. “My approach to photography is straightforward,” he says. “I see something beautiful and I try to capture that beauty with my camera in order to share it.”
Pankov exclusively uses Ilford Photo films, with most of his night images taken on Delta 100, and landscapes shot on Pan F+. He hand-processes his films using Ilford DDX developer. "The Delta 100 in DDX developer is a modern technology, ultra high resolution combination which gives great results with high contrast subjects, such as night scenes,” he says.
All prints go through double fixing baths, and fibre prints receive Ilford Wash Aid bath treatment, followed by at least one hour washing. As per Ilford Photo's official recommendation, I consider this process to be the best method of processing fibre base papers for maximum archival longevity.
I print on a variety of Ilford photo papers, both resin coated and fibre based. My personal favourite is Ilford Multigrade FB Warmtone paper with glossy finish. It's a beautiful premium quality, variable contrast black-and-white paper which has a warm black image tone on a warm white double weight fibre base.
Tim Rudman is another highly qualified photographer who has applied his in-depth understanding of photography to achieve breathtaking results. Mostly working with Ilford FP4+ and Delta film, he is known internationally as a Fine Art photographer, printer, author and authority on darkroom techniques, and notably for his pioneering work in the beautiful process of lith printing, of which he is an undisputed world master.
Having qualified in medicine and surgery in the late 1960s, for many years Rudman pursued his two loves of medicine and photography in parallel, but now devotes his time to photography. His work has been widely exhibited in over 25 countries; it has received numerous international awards and is held in a number of permanent and private collections.
Rudman is a quadruple Fellow in Photography and the Arts, a member and past chairman of The London Salon of Photography and a member of the Arena group of photographers. He sits on the Royal Photographic Society's Distinctions Panel for Visual Arts, and was a founder member and subsequent chairman of the Distinctions Panel for Photographic Printing.
He was awarded an Associateship by the India International Photographic Council for services to photography, and holds the distinction of Excellence of the Federation International de l'Art Photographique.
In addition to several hundred published articles on photography and printing released in Europe, America and Australia, Rudman has published books on photographic printing, toning, and lith printing on which subject he is the only published author.
Andrew Sanderson has, over some 25 years as a photographer and printer, concentrated on utilising the primary basics of photography, yet his work has the appearance of contemporary art in its approach to capturing more than simply the reproduction of a view; rather, he endeavours to endow his work with the feel of the subject, creating his own textures where appropriate.
Sanderson has undertaken a great deal of advertising/design work for a diverse range of clients, including: Ciba/Geigy, Yorkshire Television, Stormseal, Charles Barker Agency, Brahm Agency, MacDonald's, Whitley Willows, Rowan Yarns, Hatfield's (Jaguar cars), and Huddersfield Choral Society.
He also works in portraiture, press, sports and many other things besides - for the past 10 years he has also been teaching photography, and has written several books on photography and print technique.
Many magazines have featured Sanderson's work, and his posters have sold around the world, while much of his work is featured in a gallery he owns in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. Since his earliest shows around Britain in the mid '80s as part of Present Recollections - an Arts Council touring Exhibition - Sanderson has shown regularly in the North of England, London, and New York, and has photographs in picture libraries in both Britain and the United States.
One of Sanderson's recent projects has been to photograph the architecture of different cities around the United Kingdom - but with a difference. “I wanted to get away from the usual way of showing buildings in full colour, on large format, and in good light,” he explains. “I therefore used the paper negative technique which I had developed more than 20 years ago. Prints done this way work better if fine detail is not important to the strength of the image, leaving the pictures as areas of shape and tone.
The images were not taken with paper in the camera, but from paper copy negatives, the originals being on 35mm Ilford HP5 rated at ISO400. This allowed me to use longer lenses for the odd shot or two, something which would have been much more problematic had I used paper in a 5x4 camera.
Lateral thinking is something Sanderson endeavours to teach his students: “As often happens in many areas of creativity, projects can take on a life of their own and dictate a different direction,” he says. “I am a great believer in being open to other possibilities in my work. I can 'nail it down' if the project requires it and control every aspect of the process, but for personal pictures this is not always desirable. It is in these situations that the unconscious mind often takes a hand and produces better work if allowed free rein.”
While many acclaimed photographers find that the unconscious mind frequently takes over and releases their inner artistic abilities, for that innate visuality to be interpreted into photographic masterpieces, it is essential not only that the individuals have complete mastery over their practical applications, but that they use the best possible materials to give due quality to the depiction of their vision.
It is a theme which is well highlighted in the work of Dave Butcher, Philip Pankov, Tim Rudman and Andrew Sanderson, all of whom recognise that the best materials come from the same source - Ilford photo.