Silver Scuro: Portraits in B&W

The launch of Silver Scuro opens with a new exhibit of portraits created with the large format view camera at Mastroianni Photography and Arts on December 12, 2014, and continues throughout the winter. Silver Scuro is devoted to creating images with traditional black and white film, and hand-printed in the darkroom on real silver gelatin b&w paper.

Sitting for the view camera is a commitment, both for the subject and the photographer. The camera itself is large and unwieldily, requiring a tripod and space to set it up. The process of creating the exposure is as far from point and shoot as one can get; light is metered, focus is set, film is loaded, and shutter is released. The exposures tend to be long, often several seconds, and the depth of field can be very shallow, often a few inches, so the subject must be perfectly still for the entire process. The materials—film, paper, chemistry—have become more rare and more expensive in the past decade, making every shot count. But it’s the slow, deliberate process which delivers the intense and decisive images.

While it’s easy to become enamored with the old time look of these photographs, using traditional black & white film and paper is not about nostalgia or style, it’s about the process and the medium. I can recreate the “look” on a digital image with a couple of clicks in Photoshop, but it’s just artificial flavoring on a substitute product. Sitting for the photographer, creating the exposures, the characteristics of the large lenses and cameras, the physicality of the film and paper, the real silver that makes the image—these are the things which make the photographs interesting and unique. Process informs aesthetic.

A catalog of the show is available online for $19.99.

Richard Hearn, scientist/musician



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