Canyon Crucifix, final print.

Photographing a Canyon

written by: Bruce Barnbaum

In late April 2007, I co-instructed a workshop with Don Rommes in the Escalante Canyons of Utah. Don and I have conducted these workshops since 2001; they include a five-day backpack into the extraordinary canyons. Each year we select a different set of canyons to explore. This year we hiked the full length of Wolverine Canyon to Horse Canyon, where we set up camp (llamas carry in the gear for the outing). On the final day, we hiked back to the trailhead again through Wolverine Canyon. Entering Wolverine from its confluence with Horse Canyon, you’re immediately struck by the convoluted Read more »


Transforming Bland into Mysterious

written by: Bruce Barnbaum

Several years ago, Kodak opened a new emulsion coating plant for some of its films, including Tri-X,which is one of its oldest, most-honored films. It’s also one that I’ve used as my primary 4×5 film for more than 30 years. It has been a great, reliable film, with wonderful leeway for both increasing and decreasing inherent contrast of a scene, so it has served my purposes well. Kodak asked if I would be willing to test the new film in comparison with the film they had been coating at the older facility for years. I agreed to help. So they Read more »


Dealing with Complex Compositions

May Lily Leaves and Buds required thought in the field and cropping in the darkroom
written by: Bruce Barnbaum

May lilies, or maiathemum, form a wonderful ground cover in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington in mid-April, and push forth their flowers in early May. They then last throughout the summer, completely disappearing by early October, as if they were never there. But for the spring and summer months that they enliven, they are a real joy, contributing immensely to the richness of the lowland and mid-level forests. I have photographed these heart-shaped leaves in both color and black-and-white over the years, sometimes on my own property and nearby, and sometimes farther up in the mountains near my home. Read more »


Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

written by: Bruce Barnbaum

The canyons of the Escalante River in Southeastern Utah are the most remote portion of the United States, and arguably the most magnificent. They are also highly inaccessible, for hikers trekking into the canyons must bring their own food and water, unless they know where the seeps of fresh water are located. Along with Don Rommes, who has a home within the Escalante River drainage, I have run a series of backpacking workshops into these canyons over the past six years. While we did not present the workshop in 2006, we will again in 2007. We use a team of Read more »


No Manipulation Required

Why more negatives don't lead to straight prints
written by: Bruce Barnbaum

Until now, in a decade of writing this column, there has always been a “straight print” and then a “final print,” and I have discussed the methods used to get from one to the other (except for my eight “Photographic Myths Exploded” articles, which had no prints associated with them). But here, for the very first time, I present a completely “straight” print, one that required no burning, no dodging, no increase or decrease in the basic contrast level, and no bleaching. I simply put the negative in the enlarger, focus it, give it the proper length of exposure under Read more »


The Importance of Camera Positioning

written by: Bruce Barnbaum

The Lofoten Islands are a mountainous archipelago off the coast of Norway at the Arctic Circle. They look like the tops of Grand Tetons sticking up out of the water, perhaps the most striking land- and seascape I have ever encountered. I first visited the Lofoten Islands in 1980, when I was invited to teach a photography workshop to an invited group of working professional Norwegian photographers. Prior to the workshop, I traveled to parts of Norway—a startlingly beautiful country—finding the Lofoten Islands to be even more magnificent than the rest of the country . . . and that’s saying Read more »


Reimagining an Image

Sometimes your first composition isn't the best one
written by: Bruce Barnbaum

In 1991 Don Kirby and I started a series of workshops in the Utah backcountry that we called the Canyon Country Exploratory. We would drive to remote locations to camp overnight, then hike and photograph in even more remote locations during the daytime. The workshops ran for 10 years, and we roamed through a lot of spectacular country during that decade. The first year we presented the workshop we drove into the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. One of our hikes within that region took us high into the slickrock expanses, well into the backcountry. The weather had been Read more »


Dealing with High and Low Contrast in the Same Image

written by: Bruce Barnbaum

The Resting Place, a photograph of a Great Basin rattlesnake curled up on dried mud, was made in 1987 in Peekaboo Canyon, one of the many extraordinary canyons within the Escalante River complex of canyons in southeastern Utah. Peekaboo Canyon’s lower portion becomes a series of relatively circular hollows, perhaps 10 feet in diameter and several feet deep, with upward-curving, steep-sided walls that become vertical. So standing in any one of them is like being in a deep salad bowl. The rounded bottom of each hollow was covered with plates of dried mud, which continued up the lower curved wall Read more »


Working a Photographic Image

The Right, the Wrong, and the really Ugly Way
written by: Bruce Barnbaum

On the last day of October 2007, I went into the cosmic rock garden known as the Alabama Hills, beneath the eastern wall of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Though I have photographed in the Alabama Hills since the early 1970s, I felt I needed to break out of a mold of photographing backlit or edge-lit rocks … and I did! Most exciting for me was when I found an enormous over- hanging boulder, from which other boulders could be framed in relationship to the giant under which I stood. I quickly set up my 4×5 Linhof Technika camera, with a Read more »


Time Bracketing

Whether Using film or digital, photos benefit from employing time to freeze or blur motion
written by: Bruce Barnbaum

This issue’s article has little to do with printing, but a great deal to do with exposing an image—and it applies equally to black-and-white or color, and to digital as well as traditional exposures. It has to do with the length of exposure time for a moving subject, in this case a waterfall. At the east end of Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park, the water rushes out in a small, but wonderful display of crashing fury. Only about 60 feet across, and probably no more than a 35-foot drop, the waterfall is, nonetheless, quite spectacular. The question is: what Read more »