David Vestal Writes:
Silver halide black and white - that's a sneaky way to say traditional b/w photography. There's nothing new or exotic about it. It's just photography as practiced for the last hundred years, using b/w films, printing papers and chemicals you can still buy in photo stores. Kodak no longer makes black and white printing papers, but Ilford and others work hard to fill that gap. Kodak still makes Tri-X and T-Max films, and many other companies produce their own b/w films. The darkroom lives on and gives us simpler control over picture quality. In digital photography everything must frequently be learned all over again, thanks to rapid obsolescence. The 8 inch floppy disk, advanced in its day, is no longer in general use. Digital hardware and software become obsolete all too quickly. I don't mean to knock digital photography, which I also practice and like, but just think: you don't need a computer to process your silver-halide photos by reliable methods that have been refined and standardized over many years. Silver-halide b/w is much easier to learn than Photoshop, and it changes far more slowly. What you learn this year will stay good as long as the tools and materials are available. A darkroom can be improvised rather easily in a kitchen, bathroom or bedroom. I used all three before I finally made my own darkroom.
Old fashioned black and white photography using traditional film, paper and processing chemicals has now become an uncommonly easy and rewarding "Alternative process." If you are an aficionado of difficulty, it also lets you do hard things. Me? I like the easy way, but no one need be restricted to it. I'll show you basic procedures, done right and you can go on from there any way you choose. This year Al Weber, with whom I usually, work can't come due to health problems. I hope he will be back next year. He knows a lot that I don't know and shares it generously. For now I'll borrow his description of how things go at the Formulary, and will try to keep them going well.
"This is a week of black-and-white photography with emphasis on handcraft. Stay in a swell room, or camp; your choice. Let Lynn and her crew pamper and feed you like royalty. The meals alone are worth the tuition. Outstanding, well equipped darkrooms, and a great chemical supply house. The Formulary is a special place. The surrounding landscape is mountains and lakes. Glacier National Park is just to the north. Bud and Lynn Wilson have built a wonderful complex that combines a peaceful meadow and lodge setting tucked up against rugged peaks. Wildlife is abundant, horses and dogs are very much at home, rooms are comfortable and modern, or you can camp on a quiet glen. There is always time to sit back and take it easy. The labs are spacious and open during off hours. Those attending are expected to work, but there is no pressure and there's ample time to discuss and evaluate photographs. Vestal and Weber (wrote Al) enjoy working with students; they've been around a while and are easy going and knowledgeable." You'll miss the usual disagreements between Al and me this time. He and I think differently and we both get decent work done. There’s more than one good way to photograph. I hold that your way, not Al's or mine is the best way for you to work. I'm here to help you find it and to develop it if you've already found it.
Russ Hepworth Writes:
Film photography changed the world like never before, and film is where the roots of today’s Digital photography lie. This workshop will provide an excellent opportunity to practice Black and White Darkroom Photography in an ideal setting that is as inspiring as it is well equipped. This workshop also comes with instruction and guidance gleaned from many decades of experience.
In 2008, I met David Vestal after Al Weber invited me to assist in his workshop at his studio in Carmel, California. It was a very great gift. David Vestal is a Nation Treasure. His history with, and contribution to American photography is legendary. It is an honor for me to work with him again and this workshop will allow plenty of opportunity for you to get to know David and tap into his vast wealth of experience.
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