Jack Holowitz
A Master Photographer Using Classic Techniques

Jack Holowitz

Jack Holowitz is the male half of the incredibly talented team of Jack and Nancy Holowitz from Springfield, Massachusetts. Nancy is known for her sensitive portraiture, and Jack has gained a great reputation for his eye-popping black and white work that includes nudes and landscapes.

Jack has been acknowledged by the Professional Photographers of America with their Masters and Craftsman degrees and by the American Society of Photographers with their highest degree, the ASP Fellow, one of about 60 worldwide. In 1997 one of Jack's figure studies was awarded the Gold Medallion Award from the ASP, which only means it was the finest print entered that year in a competition that usually receives about 6000 entries, all from highly skilled pros.

Foggy Morning: Taken in Pennsylvania early morning before sunrise.
Photos © 2002, Jack Holowitz, All Rights Reserved

A quiet, unassuming guy who prefers to let his images do the talking, Jack has long been a disciple of the Zone System and has taught many workshops for photographers interested in obtaining the finest possible black and white photos. And while some photographers are content to use their passion for black and white solely for their personal work, Jack has gone a step further and incorporated it into his studio work to the point where 75 percent of his work is now finely crafted black and white portrait studies.

Goblin Valley: Sunrise at Goblin Valley, Utah.

Large, Large Format
Jack's a believer in large format. Now I know that for some of you large format might mean a 645 or a 5-megapixel camera, but what we're talking about here is a quantum leap from 4x5, a 7x17" Korona Panoramic View camera! That's right folks, the negative is 7x17"! Originally made as a "banquet camera" for photographing large groups, Jack has taken this unusual camera and pressed it into duty as a device for producing incredible landscapes.

Moss Glen Falls: This is on scenic Rt. 100 in Vermont. Because of the size of the camera, shooting verticals is a challenge. The weight of the camera keeps turning the tripod screw so a second smaller tripod is used to support the front end of the camera.
Ballet Slippers: A studio shot with the camera in vertical position.

You might ask yourself why anyone would lug around a camera this size. (Note: He has a bigger 12x20 camera that only goes as far as he can drive.) Probably for the same reason some photographers shoot with a 20x24 Polaroid--there's just no other way to get the image it supplies. Even Jack admits that lugging around a camera, tripod, film holders, and the related gear is a major nuisance, and airport security always wants to look inside that big box of film to see what's in it. But it's that feeling you get when you look at the incredible result that makes it all worthwhile. A 7x17" contact print in the hands of a master like Jack is something to behold. Now let's get to the "nuts and bolts" part of this so we can see exactly what goes into the making of these prints.

Gear And Film Choices
Jack's lens selection for this beast includes a 16" (about 400mm) Taylor/Hobson/Cook lens, a 12" (about 300mm) Goertz, and a 20" (about 500mm) Caltar. Figure a "normal" lens for this format, if there is such a thing, is about 18".

As you can imagine, film choices are very limited. In this country, you can purchase Ilford HP5 in this format, so that's what Jack uses. The film is then processed using a two-solution Pyro developer. Jack prefers this since it leaves a green/brown stain which makes it more suitable for platinum printing. You may have surmised that for a guy that goes through this much trouble to produce the negative, coating his own paper for platinum images is just a minor step in the process to produce those exquisite prints. He of course uses the Zone System in his quest for perfect prints and claims it's pretty much second nature to him by now.

Along The Winooski: A scene from northern Vermont.

Speaking of prints, you are probably wondering by now how they're printed. The negative is placed in a contact printing frame with the paper, then all is placed for exposure under the enlarger. This method of printing also allows for dodging and burning each print. In addition to the silver and platinum prints that Jack makes in this manner, he now offers his prints for sale on color photographic paper. The advent of Fuji Crystal Archive paper, with a life expectancy of at least 100 years, allows Jack to be comfortable with this method. A print is scanned (all photos used in this article were scanned using a Fuji 2750 scanner), and then copies can be made from the digital file. Silver prints are made on Ilford Warmtone fiber paper.

Jack exhibits his work at major art shows and select galleries across the country. Prices for his work range from about $400 for a Crystal Archive print to $900 for a platinum print. If you are interested in purchasing a print or would like more information, visit www.holowitz.com or e-mail jack.holowitz@verizon.net.