In 1980, on assignment for the Finnish Museum of Architecture, I made this photograph of Resurrection Chapel in Turku, Finland. Architect Erik Bryggman created what has become one of Finland’s proudest structures during what the Finns call the Winter War and what we know as World War II. To my taste, it is simple, but profusely elegant. The intentional quality of light and graceful, romantic carvings are but two of the buildings outstanding features. I decided to use the light that was there, with no supplementary assistance, to keep the carvings understated but visible. Existing contrast was great to the eye, but beyond normal treatment for film. I elected to use 4!5 Tri-X film, carefully exposing for low values and, processing in Gordon Hutchings PMK Pyro to N–2. The resulting negative prints well on a grade 3 paper, with minimal dodging and burning.
My camera of choice was, and has been for a long time, a 1958 Sinar Expert. The lens was a 300 mm Rodenstock Sironar. I carry the necessary film development materials so that I can see exactly where I am at the end of each day. HC-110 and the PMK cover most situations. For trays I use plastic drawer dividers found in any variety store. When I eventually get home, I re-fix and wash all film to assure proper processing.
For me, the ideal print process should be invisible. It should allow the viewer to immediately and totally concentrate on the image. I want you to get right into the carvings and the quality of light without being side tracked by clever film manipulation or tricky printing applications. Any manipulation I do must be unnoticed, to the best of my ability.
Too many photographers make prints that are excessive in technique—it is common that one first notices the quality of printing, and even negative making before or even if they see the photograph. Craft supports Art. It always has. Some misguided photographers labor under the pretense that if a photograph is well-executed, the subject is of minor concern. I do not mean that craft is to be ignored, but it should never intrude on the art. If the quality of printing is good and the negative has been properly exposed and developed, the viewer has the pleasure of seeing directly what the photographer had in mind. If the photograph reeks of the Zone System, the viewer is distracted. Any process that calls attention to itself is a negative force.