The Cultural Landscapes Of Chris Faust Page 2

Regardless of whether he's shooting color or black and white, Chris tends to take his time when photographing. "Sometimes I won't even set up the camera," he says. "I'll just walk around and see if I think an image is there. I try and do this with the students, too. I tell them to bring their tripods, that we're not using a shotgun here. We're going to carefully compose; we're going to design an image, make a photograph. And that's what we do.

"Sometimes, though, things happen quickly and you have to react intuitively and instinctively to make the photograph. The railroad crossing photograph--that took about 2 minutes. I was three cars behind the Chevy when the crossing gate went down. I saw there was a photograph there. I left my car, set up and got ready. The people in the Chevy rolled down the window and asked if I wanted them to hold still and I said, no, just stay there, you look great. It's a coal train, and it took about 2 1/2 minutes to pass, so I had the time."

Chris' images are concerned with what he calls the cultural landscape. "The way that people use private and public landscapes reflects differences in local cultures and marks history," he writes at his website, www.chrisfaustphoto.com. A number of the images are made at night, when his long exposures reveal details we'd otherwise never notice, which is keeping with his stated goal of revealing in uncommon ways common subjects. Nocturnes, a collection of his images of the world at night will be published in May by the University of Minnesota Press.

Just like black and white photography and the traditional darkroom, late-night travels and the subjects they reveal suit Chris' vision. "I'm a road less traveled guy," he says, "and I don't mind being alone with my own ideas and methods."

About The Photographs
Chris most often uses a Fuji G617 for his photography, but has done some work with both F7 and 1500 Widelux cameras. He has recently begun doing "more detailed landscapes" with a Fuji 6x7 and a 4x5 Super Speed Graphic. In the darkroom he uses a 5x7 Durst 138 condenser enlarger with specially machined masks for the panoramic format. For bigger prints, he has a Durst 184 with a cold head. He made his own easel for 12x38" prints, and uses a Saunders for all others. His paper is predominantly Ilford.

Chris credits the rich tonal quality of his prints to a technique called compensation development. "I learned it from John Sexton," he says, "and the idea is that as soon as you agitate, the highlights develop right away and the shadow values keep on developing because there's not much silver there. What I learned from John was to use a very dilute developer--1:20--and drive the temperature up, from 68Þ to about 75--then agitate once every 2 minutes. Because the developer is dilute to begin with, the highlight values exhaust immediately, as soon as you're done shaking them, while the low tonal values continue to develop. It's best to use T-Max 400 film for this because it has no reciprocity failure. It works with Tri-X, but you can get what's called bromide drag, which is caused by the heaviness of the solution going over the surface of the film, which gives you streaks.

"I expose T-Max 400--none of this will work with 3200--for long periods of time, often anywhere from 5-20 minutes at f/45. If there are no streetlights and only a full moon, I can go 20-25 minutes. The idea is to give [the image] a lot of exposure and then develop it very minimally, so there's compensation for highlights and shadows; they're becoming more equal in the development, and the shadow details come out without the highlights overdeveloping. What's happening is the highlights stop because of the weak developer and the time and heat take care of the shadow areas. So you can have a seven- or eight-stop difference and it begins to look more like four. That's the key with all my night images."

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