A Traditional Photographer Merges Film And Digital Techniques; The Art And Craft Of Richard Lohmann

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One look at the work of Richard Lohmann and you know you are viewing the work of a very skilled photographic practitioner. But what really has Lohmann excited these days are evolutions in digital technology. A combination of advanced film processing techniques and new ink technology has convinced Lohmann that he can now produce images comparable in quality to platinum prints produced from 8x10 negatives, but have a different, and unique, character. I was fascinated by the concept and thought exploring the idea further with him would prove worthwhile.

A Professor of Photography at the College of San Mateo, Lohmann earned his B.A. in Photography and Conceptual Design in 1980. After graduation he worked for the Imogen Cunningham Trust making platinum prints made from her glass-plate negatives. He later earned his M.A. in Photography in '84 from San Francisco State University.

Lohmann began making hand-coated platinum prints in '77 as a response to the mood and character he saw in the vintage platinum prints of P.H. Emerson and Frederick H. Evans. He loved the work of early platinum revivalists like George Tice and Tom Millea, and was drawn to the ambiguous reference to time created by the print's warm tones. The print color suggested that the image might have been made in another time, perhaps in another era. Additionally, he felt that the tonal softness helped create a mood of quiet reflection. Because then, and now, he wants to create something that is, in the words of Brian Eno, "extremely calm and soothing, something that invites you in, rather than pushes itself upon you."

He made his first platinum print 27 years ago, but today he's exploring how digital imaging can aid in his expressive efforts. Today he works with a "hybrid" of digital and traditional techniques, producing prints that share the same warmth and texture as his platinum prints, but produce a wider dynamic range of tones.

Lohmann is currently working on a project titled "Atmosphere." In his words, "I have stopped seeing my photographs as descriptions of place but as visual metaphors, where the whole is equal to more than the sum of its parts. To dissuade viewers from literal interpretation, I have titled each image simply with the date the photograph was created. My goal is to create images where `the trees are no longer trees.'"

To view more of Lohmann's work, visit www.richardlohmann.com.

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