First, a little bit about Spirit Light Photography and the reason for the name. It took me a while to realize the importance of light. Now that may sound obvious, but it did take some time to realize that the quality of light is so very important in my photography. I've seen many potential images, but the right light was just not there. I realized that the light did not give any "spirit" or life to the image. It finally dawned on me that many times the right light can really make or break a photograph. Hence, the name of "Spirit Light Photography." I like to think that the light in which I shoot gives the image "spirit" or life.
I picked up my first camera in college and I am self taught. After college I was fortunate enough to spend about 13 years working in Colorado, Yellowstone National Park, and Zion National Park. I fell in love with the West. And while I now live in Wisconsin, I find myself being pulled back to those areas on a regular basis.
In 1999, or there about, I picked up my first large format camera. It was an eye opening experience in many ways. I wish I had discovered large format earlier as I found it suited my style of photography which was changing from predominately wildlife to landscapes. Large format is slow and methodical and makes me take my time in the natural world around me. My work certainly is not cutting edge or earth shattering. It is simply my attempt at looking at the natural world around me and trying to express what I see.
About the photographs....
All the photos on this website are from large format film. I currently use 4x5, 5x7, 4x10, (for the panoramas) and most recently, 8x10. The situation will determine which format gets used. I currently work primarily with two types of transparency (slide) film - Fuji Velvia 50 and Fuji Provia 100. Both of these films offer exceptional color and sharpness. And because of the large film size, excellent large prints can be made while retaining exceptional sharpness.
What do I do once I have taken the shot and have the transparency in hand? First the film is scanned using a state of the art drum scanner. This scanner will give me a file size between 300 and 400mb which is more than enough information and detail to print to very large sizes - up to 44x60 and even larger with film sizes above 4x5. I also scan much of my personal work with an Epson V750 flatbed scanner. While not as sharp as the drum scanners, they do allow me to scan much of my work without the cost of spending $100 plus for scans. Most of these scans are sufficient for web use and depending on the film size scanned can give a very nice 32x40 print.
So how do I make the final print? While film can record a tremendous amount of information, it does not have the same latitude and response that the human eye has. Film is without emotion and perception and the scanning doesn't put that emotion or human response back into the image. I do. By using Photoshop I can adjust the image to the way I originally perceived the scene. As I work on an image and get closer to my final vision, I hopefully get an emotional response from the print that I had when I originally photographed the scene. If I do, then I think I have succeeded with the print. All that being said, please realize that my prints are about 90 to 95% accurate to my film, it's the 5 to 10% adjustment that turns the image into my final vision. If you were to hold up one of my transparencies to my prints, you would think they look just about the same. Photoshop lets me get my vision back on paper, but it is not responsible for the final result.
All of my prints are now printed using an Epson wide format inkjet printer. I can print up to 44 x 100 inches. The results are exceptional and long lasting. The color and sharpness are unsurpassed and the longevity of the pigmented inks and papers are as good as any color process out there. Being able to print my work at home is exciting as I get to control all aspects of the process. It is still and always will be a thrill to see a finished print come off the printer. And I hope you enjoy the final result also.
About my methodology...
I sometimes think the best description of my work is what I might call "observational photography." Simply put, I am constantly surveying the world around me and if something catches my attention, I'll attempt to capture its essence.