I am interested in the natural landscape as an abstraction of reality and simplify composition to focus on the most important subject in the scene. My work is printed in monochrome because the elimination of color forces the viewer to concentrate on the essential elements; light, form and texture. Content is not unimportant in my work because I am attracted to beautiful and noble subjects, but ultimately the subject is less important than how it is depicted.
Making photographs is an act of discovery, both in capturing the image in the field and in printmaking. In the very early days of photography viewers were fascinated by the detail of the photographic process. One such statement by an unknown Parisian reviewer was made describing the details in a daguerreotype, published in Alphonse Donné, “Le daguerreotype,” Le Voleur (15 July 1839). “The most delicate objects, the small pebbles under the water by the shore, and the different degrees of transparency they give to the water, everything is reproduced with an unbelievable exactitude. But our astonishment redoubles when we take a magnifying glass and discover, especially in the foliage of the trees, an immense amount of such fine detail that would be impossible for the naked eye to capture on its own.” In my own work there is a constant joy in the act of discovery, whether it be finding an extraordinary subject in the natural landscape, or in printmaking when a small detail in the scene is revealed that was not noticed when capturing the image.
I am captivated by the ability of the lens to gather light from objects in the world, and to expand this image to a detailed and precise rendering of nature. Photography always begins with something that is real, and this for me is one of its greatest strength, and what sets it apart from other forms of the Visual Arts, like painting, which have an internal origin.
Printmaking is as important for me as seeing and discovery. Much of my work is done with 19th century hand made photographic processes, including carbon transfer and platinum and palladium. I am fascinated by these historical tools, and with analog photography, but I am also intrigued with the creative possibilities of digital work. The result is that my work is hybrid in nature, and attempts to combine the best features of analog and digital.
I was born and raised in Louisiana. As a young man I studied in Quebec, Belgium and Spain, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Spanish Literature from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. In 1971 I began teaching at Clemson University, and remained there until I retired from teaching in 2006. I currently reside in Easley, South Carolina.
My research agenda as a professor was the history of photography and I wrote and published several scholarly books on the subject, including The Photographic Impressionists of Spain: A History of the Aesthetics and Technique of Pictorial Photography, New York, 1989: Schmidt de las Heras: Fotografías 1944-1960. La Coruña (Spain), 1999, and El impresionismo fotográfico en España: Una historia de la técnica y de la estética de la fotografía pictorialista, Zarautz (Spain), 2000.
In the early 1970s I became interested in creative photography and since that time have photographed extensively in my home area of North and South Carolina, in other areas of the US, and also in Canada, China, Mexico, Turkey, and Spain. I am a landscape photographer who works with both digital capture and with film cameras, including medium format, large format, and ultra large format equipment.
As a fine art photographer I have been interested primarily in the hand-made photograph and have acquired expertise in several different historical printing processes, including carbon transfer, kallitype, platinum and palladium, and Vandyke. Making a photograph by hand, which includes preparing the original sensitized material by coating a sheet of paper with a photographic emulsion, is a fascinating adventure in which one has maximum control over the printmaking syntax, which determine the final, tangible qualities of the photograph as object, including its color, texture, tonal scale and reflective qualities.
For more than two decades I have devoted a great part of my time to the carbon transfer process. This work has been exhibited widely and published in such magazines as Photovision, Silvershotz and View Camera. I have conducted many group and one-on-one workshops on carbon printing in the USA and abroad, including China, Canada, Mexico, Spain and Turkey, and have published extensively on alternative printmaking, including web articles on carbon transfer, kallitype, and Vandyke, and have a monograph on carbon printing, The Book of Carbon and Carbro: Contemporary Procedures for Pigment Printmaking. Greenville, SC: Permanent Light Systems, 2nd edition 2002.