Portrait of a painter. Circa 1979. In the painting studios at the Fine Arts College. University of Texas at Austin.

I came across a box of prints today and it was like firing up a time machine. I find that I have deluded myself all these years with the mistaken belief that better and better cameras and lenses were somehow vital to realizing a vision of some sort. How woefully misguided I have been. 

This image was shot with an ancient SLR camera; the Canon TX. It was a totally manual camera in every regard. The film is, no doubt, Kodak's Tri-X. I'm sure because I was so underfunded in those days that I could only afford film that I bought in bulk rolls and spooled into 35mm cartridges myself. 

The lens was a well used 85mm f1.8 Canon FD. I bought it from a photographer friend who needed to sell it in order to pay his tuition.

I made the original print in the Ark Co-op Darkroom on some sort of wonderful double weight paper and here we are 40+ years later and the processing is still holding up well; no yellowing beyond the original tone of the paper.

The camera doesn't matter nearly as much as being completely infatuated with the subject. Which continues to this minute. 

If you can't make good images it's probably not about the quality of your gear but perhaps you are just aiming the equipment at the wrong subject.

Looking through boxes of old prints is a nice way to spend a cold, short, rainy day. Ah, we were so young and thin in those days. 


Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

I wanted to make a few quick images of the original prints I found today and I wanted to test out "Halide Mark II Pro" software for my phone. This image, and a series to follow, were shot with a pedestrian iPhone XR and the Halide app. I was quite happy with the results.

Michael Matthews said...

Lovely, as always.

Halide Mark II, from reading about it on the software maker’s site, looks like everything a pro like you could hope for. To an inept, like me, it looks like a way to make the iPhone as complicated as the most advanced dedicated cameras. Would I want to deconstruct and thus undo all the magic Apple hath wrought? Maybe. Although not created for this purpose, it looks like an excellent way to learn the use of sophisticated tools like waveform monitors which remain a mystery to me. Little steps. One at a time. And very inexpensively.

Eric Rose said...

What a sweetie!!! And still as vivacious today! As far as camera equipment is concerned I agree with you 100%. Ninety nine percent of the photos I see today are technically perfect, razor sharp and utterly boring.


Dave Jenkins said...

Such a totally great portrait.

Rich said...


Steve Blader said...

Beautiful portrait of a beautiful subject.

My wife of 48+ years, Connie, is still my favorite subject and the most photogenic woman I've ever had the privilege of photographing. I never tire of looking at her. Sometimes I look at her and she takes my breath away.


Jon Maxim said...

Agree with absolutely everything you say here. What an absolutely beautiful, enchanting and stunning portrait. You are a lucky man.

(P.S. I am, also.)

Jon Maxim

Bob F. said...

A wonderful portrait! One of the best features of your blog is your obvious love for your wife and son.

Another great asset is that, along with TOP, VSL is perhaps the best-written photography site going.

Edward Richards said...

"Young and thin in those days."

A couple of years ago I shipped off about 17K negatives and slides, which I started shooting in high school and stopped shooting when I went completely digital, other than 4x5. Dates would be 1967 - 2000, with most in the earlier days. It was an amazing trip through time when they came back. Pictures of my wife as a young medical student through the graduation of kids from college.

Anonymous said...

Almost unimaginably beautiful.