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11 May 2015

We're very fond of this image. And we've been fond of it for a long time. It was shot with a Nikon FM2 or FED and a 50mm f1.4 Nikkor lens (or maybe a 35mm f2.8 Nikkor) with sunlight from the east behind it.

The three pieces of pottery were an early work of my brother Bill. His later work was featured in Terry Gerratana's Santa Barbara Ceramic Design: Art Pottery from America's Riviera, for which we took a few photos (one of which is reproduced below).


We may not exactly remember the gear we used but we do remember that we developed the film in tanks in our darkened bathroom. We clipped the wet roll of film to a wire line above the refrigerator that threaded through clothes pins out on the enclosed porch.

We took the dried film back into the darkened bathroom to make a print on our Durst 606 enlarger with a Nikon 50mm enlarging lens on variable contrast resin-coated paper.

Later Work. We used one strobe, a white backdrop and a polarizer to do the shoot.

Nothing very special about all that. It wasn't the way you'd do it in art school. But it was the way you'd do it at a newspaper.


Sometimes a press photographer takes a shot that's just a bit more special than the photojournalism that puts bread on the table.

We didn't think this was that kind of shot, but it grew on us. So we framed it. And we've never let it out of our sight. For several decades now.

Surprise, surprise.


Another thing we didn't expect was that we'd ever find the negative again.

From the very beginning, we had religiously put all our negatives in black binders and all our slides in red binders.

But we didn't date anything because, you know, when you are young you remember everything. And some things (like this image) we simply filed out of sequence because, well, they were special.

We've always kidded Bill that we're taking good care of his urn (while he procrastinates). So when we found the negative a few days ago (safely tucked in a pocket of one of the binders), we just had to scan it (before we lost it again) and get it into our much more secure photo library where everything can always be found.

So we did.


And then, since we had digitized it, we thought we'd print it.

We don't need a print of it. The framed resin-coated print is still going strong. But we thought it would be amusing to find out just how different our digital aesthetic is.

You know, the one we confess to each Friday with a slide show: Clarity, Shadows, Highlights, Smart Sharpening. Stuff you could not do in the darkroom listening to the radio to keep awake.

In less time than it used to take to mix the developer, we had the print cranking out of the DNP DS40. (We aren't ever going back to the darkroom. Never. Ever. Ever.)


And then we laid them side by side.

We still prefer the framed version. It's warmer. It's softer. A different aesthetic.

The digital version, which we did blind, without looking at the original print, is sharper but colder. A bit bowed in our iPhone image above, too.

Of course we could print a warmer version in the blink of an eye (we did the conversion in Photoshop CC 2014 above using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer) and have a sharper, warm version to compare. Such is the wonder of digital photography.

But maybe we'll just leave that edit for another day. And enjoy what we have for the moment.

A favorite image, that is, with new life.

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