............ a philosophical and biographical look at a photographer who blends science with esthetics
As a Western Canadian photographer, the subject matter I am passionate about addresses primarily ,but not exclusively, the landscapes of the Canadian Rockies in Alberta and British Columbia, as well as images from the national parks of Montana, Utah, Arizona, California, the Four Corners Region, and European architecture, especially cathedrals and places of spirit. Since 1991 the majority of my work has been the crafting of these images as fine art black and white prints for exhibitions nationally and internationally. However, for the last five years I have chosen to express these images in the medium of the hand-crafted platinum/palladium print because this classic process more fully reveals the entire original tonal scale. It conveys a sense of three dimensionality, and enables me to convincingly translate the elements of space, water, atmosphere,and land with a delicacy unattainable with any other process. In other words, from the viewer's perspective, it creates a sense of presence. My preference is to photograph with large format view cameras utilizing sheet films ranging in size from 8"X10", 7"X17",8"X20" up to and including the ultra-large 12"X20". I chose these formats because of their exaggerated rectangles, which extend the sweeping narrative of the landscape, and because it most effectively articulates the way I see the world. And, from the viewer's perspective, it invites a different way of seeing, more like a journey through a new Iand. The view camera also has the unsurpassed ability to control perspective and capture the greatest amount of detail. Images in platinum in some respects resemble the tonality and atmosphere of those late 19th century National Geographic monochrome images, and the timeless ethereal quality of a platinum print is very much suited to landscapes, architecture and portraiture. Modern visions and interpretations of time and place supported by historical processes such as platinum printing can produce very compelling imagery. This unique printing process and impressionist interpretation are brought together through a photographic technique which is as unusual as it is rare and which also had its origins in the nineteenth century. Negatives measuring 12 inches by 20 inches or 8 inches by 20 inches allow one to explore visions in a new and more expansive visual encounter possible only through the optical language of photography. This impacts the viewer directly by articulating a vast sweeping narrative . Thus, the imagery itself, the platinum printing process to support this imagery and the technique to capture it on film are combined together to produce bold and compelling visual statements. In addition, and for some projects most importantly, the unsurpassed archival characteristics of the platinum print provides an enduring legacy and conduit to the past for future generations .
Allan King, Managing Director of PhotoVision Co.,Ltd. based in Calgary, Alberta , uses photography to explore nature's lightforms and issues of man and his environment, culture,religion, and the world he creates and changes.Born in 1948 in Calgary, Alberta in close proximity to some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the world, his work has been influenced not only by his environment but also by his desire to becomer a research engineer,. Graduating from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry ,soon to be followed by a Master's and PhD in Mining Engineering, Allan worked as an engineer for almost twelve years before settling down to pursue the work he loved the most, to craft fine images in black and white in the tradition and style of the old masters.Yet his engineering and chemical background was always an influence in his work and way of seeing, his technique,and his understanding of the processes which control the medium in which he chose to devote the better part of his professional career.
Allan's approach to documenting man and his environment always begins with a idea, which then evolves into a concept for a theme to build a photographic essay. The images are in the first instant created in the mind and in the heart - the true eyes of the camera.These visions are next captured on film ,and then in the darkroom are produced,edited and studied for their ability to weave the theme together and tap into the emotional well of the viewer.These images then transport the viewer on his own emotional journey, often evoking questions about the role of man in his environment,the meeting of the two and how this meeting invariably changes both.Exercising an exacting technical expertise and discipline in making a photograph is important, but not at the expense of sacrificing the atmosphere, feeling and spontaneity which a photograph can transmit and which must always be present if a photograph is to truly succeed. Rules governing unity, clarity and composition still apply, however subtly. Everyone who views a photograph has a different experience because everyone's background and experiences are unique.But no one should be unmoved.
Allan's quest for scenic photographs with impact has has led him to explore many mediums and destinations around the world.However, it is the traditional process of platinum/ palladium printing which became his forte,and for which he felt larger and larger negatives are required. Today, when it comes to landscapes and scenic panoramas, the 12X20 view camera is the preferred camera of choice. When it comes to formal portraits, the 8X10 is used, and when it comes to people working and living in their environment, the 35mm Leica M3 is also never very far away.The largest negative which can possibly be used is the one to be used. When viewing a photograph, the mind often hungers for detail, and when it can be found in a photograph, the eye searches that photograph relentlesly until every square millimeter has been explored in intimate detail.Objects which at first glance appear mundane and without form or appeal can become vibrant when rendered in great detail. And when that image is carefully composed in a photograph, an inner hidden beauty surfaces with astonishing clarity. The medium of the platinum/palladium print , with it's warm tones and uncanny ability to provide a feeling of depth and presence, adds another dimension to what is normally perceived as a two dimensional medium.
For the bulk of his 25 year professional career in photography, Allan has photographed man and his environment around the world, and nowhere was this more successful than in Asia, Tibet ,India and the Middle East.It was here that photographs of China, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the customs and festivals of Thailand, the temples of Burma and the mountain peoples of Laos formed the foundations for what became well received and highly acclaimed exhibitions.These in turn lead to Allan photographing notable personages of these regions, including producing portraits of Their Majesties The King and Queen of Thailand, and His Holiness The Dalai Lama of Tibet.
It was in Asia where Allan defined portraiture is the ability to capture in a single instant on film the essence of all that composes that person, and translating that entire experience into a multi-dimensional image on paper by painting with silver, platinum and palladium.And it was in Asia where he found the greatest joy in producing portaits of ordinary human beings, and revealing the greatness of their heart, mind and spirit as they live out their lives in their environment,homes and workplace.
For the last 25 years Allan has devoted himself to the art of photography and the craft of printmaking through a continual immersion in the medium, by practicing the art of seeing, by honing one's skill's in printmaking,.and by never losing familarity with the tools used to create distinctive images. Allan sets for himself rigorous self assignments designed to push the horizons of his imagination and creativity ,because the mind must never fall victim to complacency or self-satisfaction.
Allan's personal favorite destinations are the Tibetan Himalaya and the Canadian Rockies. He has made six photographic expeditions to all parts of Tibet since 1985, and has accumulated an extensive Tibetan photobank in all formats. His landscapes of the Western Canadian Rockies form the basis of extensive portfolios in platinum ,selected works of which are represented in collections in Canada, United States and Europe . They have also been displayed in solo exhibitions and juried shows in Canada and Europe.
For the last 12 years Allan has been photographing primarily with large format view cameras of all sizes ranging from 4X5 up to 12X20 - his favorite.
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