The techniques I used were called out loud by the moment. Cameras at hand, film, knowledge, and sometimes even inspiration, were always in abundance ever since we first landed in L.A.
I'll try to break this by gallery, one by one, starting with the easiest ones to explain.
Pretty straight forward. Bronica 6x6cm camera, sometimes Minolta, Echtacrome50 or Fujichrome50. Straight E6 process in the majority of cases.
Over the years I heard too many complaints from fellow photographers that kids are tough to take pictures of... well, I disagree. Just mostly let them do what they want, they're always more creative than adults. Because we were too when we were that age :-)
I was lucky enough to work with one of the biggest dance schools in U.S., Retters Academy of Dance. Since 1997 we put out dance wear catalogs, took pictures of the dancers for advertising, trade shows displays, concert programs... you name it.
The Retters. Great people to know and work with, not just teaching kids how to dance, but teaching them how to be GOOD HUMAN BEINGS. From sponsoring kids in the Philippines and Bolivia, to feeding the poor in Los Angeles, and cleaning the beach in Santa Monica.
Technique: other than being alert, none really. Minolta / Fujichrome50 at the beginning, Canon EOS Digital later.
CARS and TRAINS
For some old 50's cars I found in Death Valley I used "the rice paper sandwich technique". I laid a sheet of coarse fiber rice paper over the photographic paper, kept flat by an optical glass, and projected the negative through that sandwich. Today, of course, that's a lot easier to do in Photoshop.
BLACK & WHITE
Mostly shot with a Bronica 6x6 cm / Kodak TMAX100. Some of the portraits in the Black & White gallery were shot with a 4”x5” view camera / Kodak TMax100 film and then hand colored. Occasionally, on my travels, I'd use a Minolta loaded with Kodak infrared black & white film.
For Camille, the only exeption to that no rule law I'm so crazy about, I used lithographic film. Tough to work with as it is unpredictable, but good to solve crimes too. A Polaroid brought to us by a Santa Monica cop proved it one day. After losing the evidence, all they had left was this Polaroid of a suicide scene with a tiny note on the bed. “I did it, I killed Ralph. Can't live with myself” turned out to be written there after I bracketed an entire roll of this 35mm film copying the blurry picture and enlarging the lucky frame on 8"x10" film developed in high contrast developer and enlarging it even more on high contrast black and white paper.
For all the good reasons, Kodachrome25 was, for many years, the favorite film of the National Geographic photographers. It's sharpness, color saturation and lack of grain were unbeatable.
The rumor was, that for this particular film, Kodak didn't use layers of photosensitive emulsion for each of the primary colors, but rather microscopic grains. So I had to wonder what will happen if I push the 25 ASA film to 800, or even 1,600 ASA, even if Kodak was recommending not to try to push any higher than 75. Thanks to Ron Miller, the owner of our Santa Monica studio, who gave me unlimited access to the lab on my own time, I soon found out.
Looking closer into Kodachrome's developing process, also known as Acceleration Process, what jumped at me was that the first bath was a black and white developer. I started experimenting with different developers, different temperatures, and different “push” ratios. The result was pretty cool. The size of the grain would increase dramatically, and looking close at one of these photographs I could actually see the different grains for each primary color. From a distance, the photograph would have an impressionistic look. Later on I brought a strobe in the darkroom, triggering it a couple of times when the film was moving from the bleach tank to the color developer tank in a dip & dunk C41 machine. A posterization would take place, sometimes partial, sometimes complete. Thus, the “fauve” look. Or, "Apocalyptic" as Art of California magazine said.
Or, "Augenblicke der Stille" (The Instance of Silence) as the German ColorFoto magazine called it. Or, even better, just call it fun, like I’ve been doing all along.