March 19, 2015

Drum Scanner

Filed under: A few things... — Frank @ 2:06 pm

I’ve been looking for a used drum scanner for several years, hoping to add super-high quality scanning capability at an affordable cost. Quite by accident, I recently became aware of a Howtek HR-8000 scanner that was for sale from a display graphics company in Washington, D.C. It’s in excellent condition and I’m fortunate to have a Mac that’s old enough to run the software.

Drum scanners are old technology, but for anyone making images on film, they are still far and away the best tool for making very large, high-quality digital images. The HR-8000 will enlarge a frame of 35mm film to a size that can be printed over 4×6 FEET—and at that size you WILL see every grain in the emulsion. The optical quality is amazing and it will handle film formats to 8×10 inches and larger. In the past, I’ve had to outsource scans from film formats larger than 6x7cm.

With this new capability, I can now begin working through the forty-year backlog of film images in my library and, when the New55 film becomes available later this year, I plan on shooting a lot more on 4×5 film. Of course, I’m also hoping that other fine art photographers who are still shooting film will send me their film to scan. I now have the complete large-format workflow from film, to scan, to image processing and final output to the Epson 9900 printer.



March 10, 2015


Filed under: A few things... — Frank @ 8:27 pm

Wendy, the last of our Collies passed away last November. We’ve since adopted two other dogs, but the experience of living with Collies is somehow different than other breeds. It’s not just that they’re beautiful and friendly, as most dogs are. They have a sense of responsibility and commitment that I haven’t experienced with other animals. They seem to feel like it’s their job to take care of you—not the other way around.

I put together a collection of pictures of Ernie and Wendy that I know some of our friends will enjoy. Both Ernie and Wendy were with us for over ten years after having a difficult start in life. They both earned all the love we could give them.

(Click on any image for an enlarged slide-show view.)

August 13, 2014

BUY ART! You won’t regret it.

Filed under: A few things... — Frank @ 11:09 am

I’m a fan of Polly Chandler. She is an outstanding photographer, currently living in Austin, Texas. I would describe her work as being allegorical. She works primarily in black and white and she carefully stages people, props and environments to give the viewer a suggestion about happenings and circumstances that are beyond the picture as well as within the picture.

I first saw her work published in TEST magazine, which was published for a short time by Polaroid Corporation. The photograph in the magazine was one she had made as a student at Southern Illinois University. Over the years I’ve viewed her website on occasion and I’ve shown examples of her work to my basic photography students to give them some inspiration and show them that images can be designed by the photographer rather than simply found.

Recently, Polly announced that she was having a “print sale,” Her Facebook Page showed her fans four images that would be available as small prints at a very low price. Flashback to 1970: as an undergraduate student at Ohio University, I wandered into an off-campus art gallery and saw a photo exhibition which included a print by Emmet Gowin. The image was one that I had seen in a photo lecture earlier in the semester. If you’re at all familiar with Gowin’s work, you’ll remember the picture of the little girl with her arms crossed and outstretched toward the camera, holding an egg in each hand. The print was being offered for a price of $75.00. I thought for several minutes about whether I could make it to the end of the semester without skipping any meals if I bought the print. I decided to think about it and come back later to buy the print. I never made it back to that gallery in the remaining two weeks of the semester and the exhibition ended with the print unsold. Two years ago a print of that image was sold for $14,000!

The price of the Gowin print certainly got my attention and made me wonder why I didn’t just pull out my checkbook and buy it when I had the chance. But, far more important than the appreciation in monetary value, was the realization that I could have been living with that work of art every day for the last 40-plus years and that there is no way I could afford to buy it today!

So I bought a print from Polly Chandler. Let it not be said that I don’t learn from my past mistakes. I paid very little for the print. I think I paid as much for the materials I used to frame it. And no matter how much it appreciates in monetary value in the coming years—I will never sell it—ever. If it ever does get re-sold, I will not be here to accept the payment.


14037-008 Polly's Print

June 9, 2014

Large format photo workshop

Filed under: A few things... — Frank @ 3:16 pm

This summer I’m offering a four-day workshop in large format photography. The workshop is open to up to six students at any level of experience. We will use a 4×5 inch view camera fitted with an instant film back to shoot landscape images and portraits. This will be a fun introduction to working with instant sheet film and gaining some experience with focus and perspective controls that are not possible with more “modern” equipment. The workshop will take place in July (dates will be announced soon) at my home in Middlefield, OH. There will be a fee of $75.00 to cover the cost of film and other materials.

Anyone interested in attending should contact me through the contact page on this website, or by e-mail at frank(at@) frankgwirtz (dot) com (e-mail address written out to thwart spammer robots). I will send you complete information and request your scheduling preference. Don’t delay. We need to finalize the schedule by June 20 in order to secure the materials on time.

trees (Polaroid)

April 7, 2014

Can You Believe It? A New Film Like Type 55!

Filed under: A few things... — Frank @ 1:32 pm

Last week I saw a social media announcement about a Kickstarter project, the goal of which is to start a company to manufacture a 4X5 positive/negative instant film to fill the void left when Polaroid discontinued its Type 55 film (along with all of its other film products—immediately after which it became a Zombie corporation. Anyone heard the name Polaroid lately???)

The project is called New55 and has been in development for over three years. The new film will not be exactly the same as Type 55, but from what I’ve read on their blog, it could end up being better in some ways. For one, they feel they’ve been able to achieve a good negative and a good print from the same exposure/development time, something Polaroid was not able to do. The ISO speed of the film will also probably be higher than Type 55, perhaps as high as 400.

The Kickstarter project is attempting to raise $400,000 (!) to fund the manufacturing start up costs. It’s an ambitious endeavor, but, if a lot of us who have long lamented the loss of so many great film products over the years are willing to step up and support the project, it has a good chance of succeeding. And I believe that, if the film actually does come to the market, there is a niche that it can fill and so it should be profitable for a long time.

Several of the images in my portrait gallery on this site were shot on Polaroid Type 55 and you can read my rant in this blog, here and especially here, when I found out it had been discontinued. It was one of my favorite films for black and white portraiture because of its fine grain and unmatched tonal scale. And the groaddy edges caused by the film packet were also very cool.

So buzz on over to the New55 page on Kickstarter and contribute to the revival of an important bit of photo history—and hopefully, its future as well.


February 20, 2014

Laura Balliet Print Session

Filed under: A few things... — Frank @ 11:30 pm

Laura Balliet, of Akron, came in recently to print one of her nautilus shell photographs. She selected the William Turner paper, by Hahnemuhle, a 310gsm 100% cotton textured art paper. Check out the smile as she viewed the final result.

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