Eastern Sierra Center for Photography

Desert Oasis #1
Ted Preuss – "Desert Oasis #1, Joshua Tree, 2008"
8×10 Platinum-palladium print on Arches Platine

Desert Oasis #1, by Ted Preuss

Art and photography have always played a large part in my life. I work solely in black and white with large format cameras. Photography has become the primary method of expressing my creative vision. As an artist, I have always been interested in the human form and its many interpretations.

Desert Oasis #1, from my series "Oasis of Mara", was photographed in the early morning with the rising sun reflecting off a native fan palm oasis near Joshua Tree, California.

I noticed one early morning how captivating the sun's first light looked through the fan palms at the oasis. Throughout the rest of my day, I was composing the image in my head. The next morning about an hour before exposing the first sheet of film I identified the ideal spot to place my 8×10 Deardorff camera so that the palms created a pleasant vignette around my subject. I decided to use my Wollensak Vitax 16″ f3.8 lens, which is a wonderful petzval lens when it's wide open to do the job. Without having a shutter on this lens, I mounted a vintage Luc shutter on the front which only has two setting, open/close or 1/25 of a second. I chose 1/25 because I was shooting with Ilford Delta 100. Before the light changed or my subject moved, I was able to expose three sheets at the same exposure. I figured I could adjust the development time on each sheet if needed. To my surprise, after developing the first sheet in Ilford Perceptol with a dilution of 1:1, I didn't need to make any adjustments.

In the studio, my primarily camera is an 8×10 Sinar F2 with a wide range of modern lenses, with the exception of when I'm creating ambrotypes or tintypes, in which I use an 8×10 Deardorff with vintage brass lenses. Outside the studio, I shoot with my 8×10 Deardorff or if hiking, I bring along a Conley 5×7, Model B.W. (made in 1915) with a 4×5 back and plenty of film holders.

The process of making prints is as important to me as the practice of creating photographs. I chose platinum-palladium printing as a medium for its distinct vintage quality and archival properties. Platinum images reveal shadows and dark values beautifully.

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