Mike Vines - 1970's Black and White Photography

Ground Roof, White Water, California. 1974. Canon FTb with a 28mm lens. High-contrast photography utilizing lithographic film. The subject is a gas station island roof that had been blown over by high desert winds.

    Photography was a natural progression for me from the early days of pondering the many art books that filled my parents bookcases, reproducing the graphic illustrations contained within my mother's nursing books with pen and ink, to experimenting with negative printing in the make-shift darkroom of my bedroom closet.

While the majority of photographers worked to achieve the same low grain/super-sharp/infinite depth-of-field negative quality that Ansel Adams had established many years ago, most of my '70's work consisted of high contrast compositions made with Kodak Lithographic film, and solarized architectural renderings utilizing high-speed recording film.  I enjoyed experimenting with the grains and textures that approached the quality of graphite and charcoal drawings, and attempted to duplicate the delicate space where wood grain and sand mingled in the desert. This required hours of creative and technical discipline in the darkroom and even then you really didn't know exactly what you were going to get until you turned on the lights. Occasionally, you got the look you were after which made all your efforts gratifying and worthwhile, but they were indeed rare. Even Adams said he was doing well if he got one "good" image a year. My output during these times was scarce since I was beginning a career that was taking me to different lands and all my thoughts and efforts went into learning a new technology. But I never overlooked photography, or art for that matter, which had always served as my personal life preservers when times beat me down.

The negatives from which these images were made had survived years of relocation, and serve as an example of why we use archival materials for storage. Without a little foresight I doubt any of these negatives would be around today. This, of course, is not an issue with digital cameras.

The following is not an art review as much as it is shameful self-promotion. These are my favorite images from the '70's and I have made them available for purchase in many formats via imagekind. Please visit my gallery and browse my available works for sale. This would help support my efforts in maintaining this website and I would be grateful for your patronage.

Triple Cross. This hanging cross was a found arrangement in an abandoned shack located in what was a rural area in the north hills of Yorba Linda, Ca. Harsh summer light illuminated the interior from a broken window on the left. The lighting of the corners are the same at a diagonal and adds a sense of balance to the composition. This structure was torn down to make room for an apartment complex which is already 35 years old. Canon FTb with a 28mm lens. f11@1/60. Kodak Panatomic-X film at ISO 32.

Oil Tanks, This night time shot utilizes Kodak 2475 Recording Film and Solarization. Creating an image with a fast film speed and briefly exposing the print to room light during development created an image with a charcoal drawing-like character. The tonality of the film grain and solarization extracted fine details that were initially invisible to the eye. Illumination was from mercury-vapor security lighting on the right. The reflections and shadows on the tanks create a delicate conte drawing appearance. Taken at the Union Oil Refinery in Brea, California in 1974. Canon FTb and a 200mm lens.

Warehouse, Fullerton, Ca. Kodak 2475 recording film and solarization in the darkroom. The water stains running from the window ledge were completely invisible to the eye. Solarization gave this photograph a pleasant charcoal drawing character. Canon FTb with a 200mm lens. 1975. 

Melrose Abby Cemetery Entrance, Anaheim, Ca. Kodak 2475 Recording Film. Canon FTb with a 200mm lens. 1975.

Melrose Abby Cemetery Exterior, Anaheim, Ca. Kodak 2475 Recording Film. Canon FTb with a 200mm lens. 1975.

Melrose Abby Cemetery Chapel Window. Anaheim, Ca. Interior shot of a stained-glass window positioned over the alter of the chapel. Kodak lithographic film. Canon FTb with a 200mm lens. 1975.

Wood and Sand. Texture study taken with lithographic film at White Water, California in 1974. White Water is located a few minutes from Palm Springs and served as a secure telephone relay station during WWII. Once an active little town, it now homes a sizable rock quarry and a trout farm. Canon FTb and a 50mm lens.

Overhead Crane. Taken while standing underneath a crane in a rock quarry at White Water, California, with lithographic film. When solarized in the darkroom, the developer created random wisps of moody clouds over the tops of the San Jacinto Mountains and a 3-dimensional effect on the crane. Canon FTb with a 28mm lens. 1974.

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