Inside this issue
On my home patch
Saltburn based photographer Charles uses traditional methods to create his personal images. After many years shooting large format slide film, he has now revisited the reversal processing of paper-based emulsions for his own enjoyment and for his portrait business.
Like many in artistic pursuits, I am plagued by the question of validity. In the last few years, I have found something approaching quiet confidence thanks to a way of working (rather than through choice of subject or its presentation). I was spurred on by my rediscovery of the technique of reversal processing, which in short, consists in the creation of positive images from standard silver gelatin emulsions layered on paper or film. I put a sheet of photographic paper in the back of the camera and expose it; after some relatively quick chemical processing, it is good to go into my album. The prints are definitive and final because the only parameter I can control is exposure; the rest is tied to the chemistry. There is no post-processing possible.
The prints are physically connected to the place and time of their creation. This is one of the great attractions of slide film, especially in any of the sheet film formats. I used to shoot 5x4 a lot. Their disadvantage is that you can't just put them in an album to enjoy as prints. Sheet film is also, most commonly, enlarged to create the print. Creating prints in camera means the end size of the print is known, which in turn means that the aperture can be set to create a definite depth of field. I am an artist in control of my output.
I have used the reversal process to create a visual autobiography, a diary in pictures. This has freed me from more commercial constraints and, I feel, has brought me closer to the Truth. Much of this work follows a quest for the typical and the topical. I am also constrained by practical reality. Thus it is, that I take a lot of pictures in my home town. This series is taken in woodland just a few minutes from my front door.