A day out with the Kodak 33a

For Christmas last year, my father gifted me yet another amazing large format camera - one of slightly more manageable proportions than the previous year's!  This time it was a Kodak 33a view camera, with both 5x7 and 4x5 film holders, and a variety of lenses (on homemade lens boards; this is typical of my Dad).  I gleefully ordered a box of 5x7 HP5, did a couple of tests at home in January, and have been coming apart at the seams waiting for the opportunity to get out with the camera ever since.

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March 2, I was at last able to embark on her maiden voyage, to Austin's Pease Park for the pleasure of checking out Patrick Dougherty's new installation.  It ended up being an incredible day!  When I arrived, there were a fair amount of people exploring the artwork, mostly children, and as I walked around it looking at the light I was thinking about how I should 1. make sure the parents were ok with me photographing since it would invariably include their kiddos and 2. ask the parents if their kids would like to look under the dark cloth.  I picked a spot, started setting up, and came out from under the cloth to see a group of women standing in front of me smiling who immediately said "Hi!  The kids are VERY curious about what you are doing!"  Moments later I found myself giving an informal mini-lecture on large format photography.  If I had to pick my favorite thing about large format, this kind of thing *might* actually be it!  After all, it is the beauty of humanity that drives me to reach for a camera in the first place.  

The joy of passing on knowledge and the spark of photographic passion aside, one of the women that day asked me why I choose to use something like a view camera instead of the quick & easy option of my phone.  My response was my usual, about loving the tactile, real quality of film, and the challenge.  But the next day when I held up the first 5x7 negative from that outing to the light in my darkroom, all I could think was "this is why."


The aftermath of an inspiring day out with a large format camera is a day spent mostly in the dark, waiting with baited breath for 10 minutes at a time until I can dash back into the light with a fresh negative.  These took me the better part of 3 hours to work through (I could have worked faster, but I had no time constraints and also being in a rush usually leads to mistakes.  Plus, I like to stop for snacks).


I adore the Kodak 33a.  The extra versatility it offers over the Crown Graphic is pleasant, but what also makes it stand out for me is the Protar V lens that I have for it, which I can use with either 4x5 or 5x7.  Being able to expose at f64 is exciting for all kinds of photo-psychological reasons, but that lens also has the most delightful magic about it.  It's fun in a pinhole, in-control-but-slightly-out-of-control kind of way, since I have to use the lens cap as my shutter speed.  This gives me more creative license, as in the photograph below. The contrast it gives my negatives is exactly what I like, both wide open at a whopping f18 and stopped all the way down.  

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I am looking forward to working more with this camera!  I am looking forward to trying some portrait work with it, and am keen for willing participants, so please contact me if you are interested!  


This year so far a lot of factors have combined to keep me close to home most days.  The sky has been heavy with rain and fog more often that not; it makes this Texan long for the light, but it also makes a Texas heart happy knowing that February showers bring many, many beautiful March wildflowers!

When the sun does show its face, I am ready with my cyanotype materials.  The slightest hint of strong UV sends me running for my contact frames.  I prowl the garden for whatever I can scrounge up among the wet & decay; I pull up fresh weeds, straight from the root.  I unearth my hoard of dried botanical treasures from last year, and feathers.  I become an art scavenger.

What comes from this sun-salvaging is a whole new crop; I rarely make just one or two.  On this particular day, I even made some new wing'd women.

The Valentine's Day flowers my daughter received faded too quickly, but their life can be graciously preserved by the sun and a little cyano-magic.  Some of these will be painted and inked when the time is right.  

And of course after all of this joyful work comes another part of the process:  starting over.  A few minutes in the darkroom with my brush & chemicals means that every spare surface is covered in fresh paper waiting with me in eager anticipation of the next sunny day!

All of these images are from the "stories" portion of my dedicated cyanotype Instagram account.  Want to see more?  Please follow me there and on my dedicated cyanotype Facebook page.  All of the work is for sale, usually even the originals; if you would like to visit my sales site, it's on Society 6 (but you can also email me with inquiries).  

Open for Business!

It's a new year (ok, we are kinda well into it now, but it still has that new year smell), and it's time for some changes!  

Starting NOW, I am officially open for business.  You'll see some changes here on my website, with more to come as I put all the pieces together - there are oh so many pieces - but the gist is that me and my camera are for hire.  We want to photograph you!  We want you to be our client.  I've opened up my toolbox and dusted off my trusty DSLR, because why not use all the resources you have available?  Film or digital (or both), I am ready to photograph for you.


Portraits, parties, family, events, friends, businesses, musicians:  I would love to provide you with whatever photographs you need.  I am available in the greater Austin area and, within reason, beyond that as well.  

To help get the ball rolling, and to revitalize my portfolio, I'm offering all of my services at 50% off for a limited time.  If you book a session soon, you'll have the distinct pleasure of being one of my founding clients! 

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Please email me for more information!  I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Judy Sherrod:  she hated having her photograph made; I did it anyway.

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How do you begin to process loss?  I’ve experienced it before - at 41, it would be nothing short of miraculous if I hadn’t - but I am unfamiliar with the permanent loss of a friend from this earth.  Since the end of July, I have gone through the whole gamut of emotions, including most recently shame, because I have felt like a fool for my grief.  

The truth is that I didn’t really know Judy that well.  I don’t have a memorable story to share about the first time we met.  I had a million questions for her, a million things I wanted to know, but hadn’t asked, because I respected the silence she seemed to maintain on the subject of herself.  My feeling was that she guarded a life well lived, lived with passion, that had for whatever reason caused her to put up a wall and focus on others instead, and who am I to pound at that wall with a lot of meaningless questions.  The details didn’t really matter anyway; what I saw was a woman who was strong, brave, authentic, self assured, and absolutely not in any way full of sh*t. 

I got to know her because of an invitation: following up on my comment about an event I saw on Facebook, she invited me to join in.  It seemed like the right thing to do, so I went, and immediately had my mind blown and foundations rocked by a side of photography I had never considered.  It had been a long time since I felt that out of place, and I wanted to leave, but I stayed - I stayed because of Judy.  Two plus years later, I am so glad that I did; the friendships and experiences I have had as a result of her vision have enriched my life more than I can possibly say.

Judy made me feel welcome in a world where I didn’t belong, didn’t fit in, because it seemed like she was just as mystified by it as I am.  She told me once that she was “a terrible fine art photographer, because if I don’t get in to a show I’m pissed off about the time and money I spent on it, and if I do get in I’m pissed off about how much it costs to mail the work.”  She told me this after I confessed to her that I was secretly relieved that I didn’t get in to something because I knew what an expensive pain in the ass it would be to post a bunch of framed pieces.  (I would argue that she was in fact an excellent fine art photographer, and it could be she was just commiserating to make me feel better, but those points are moot now).  This is how we spoke to each other; in a life of minding my daily p’s and q’s, I was hugely grateful to have a wise friend that I could be frank with, someone completely real that wouldn’t judge me for being real myself.  

Judy was my anchor in the vast ocean that is the photographic community.  She encouraged me in everything, and inspired me with her own fervor for following whatever trail spoke to her at the moment.  I haven’t really begun to understand the hole her passing has left in my life, but I know I will never fill it.  She remains in a legacy of fearlessness, passion to try new things, kindness, generosity, and overall joy for every single moment.  Rest in peace, dear friend.  I only knew you in part; one day I will know you fully.

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All photographs made with film, and with a promise that they would never end up on Facebook.  So I shared them here instead.


Keeping with tradition, here are a selection of the self portraits I made during the previous year, my 40th spin round the sun.

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