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Thursday Challenge Interviews...

Joel Schilling

Here is an photo taken by Joel...

mountain scene

Joel said: "The wonderful thing about photography is the preservation of memories. This image was taken in Yoho National Park in British Columbia a decade ago. The opaque green lake is Lake O'Hara, the color of the water is from the glacial runoff. I have a large print of this on the wall opposite my bed so I see it several times a day and I'm reminded of the spectacular beauty of the Canadian Rockies."

What is your favorite animal. Why?

Dogs... my two dogs in particular. They are kind, loving, and ask for very little in return. They don't talk back or argue with me as some of my offspring do! I also have a fascination with the bonobo and their social structure. If I had to come back as something other than human the bonobo would be my first choice. For those that are interested in learning about these fascinating primates and close relatives check out these two websites:

What do you enjoy doing as a diversion (photography excluded)?
Tell us about it.

I enjoy a variety of physical activities:

  1. Running with my favorite dog, Ben, every morning before leaving for work
  2. Long bike rides on my road bike
  3. Skiing and snowshoeing once the snow starts to fall
  4. Cultural activities in New York City

I can see from your website that you have used a number of alternative photographic processes. Tell us about Platinum Prints. What makes them distinctive? Are they difficult to make? How did you get involved with using this process?

I had a desire to explore beyond the black and white film darkroom processes about five years ago. I took a course on platinum printing at the New School in Manhattan. It was a two weekend course where I learned the basic process; I then moved on and grew from that. I like the whole process, from making an enlarged negative to mixing the chemicals, to hand coating the emulsion on the paper, to watching the image magically appear as it is placed in the developer. They are the most archival of prints and will last until the paper they are printed on disintegrates. Platinum printing is a contact printing process, the size of the negative will determine the final size of the print. In order to get an eight by ten print you need the same size negative. I make my large negatives by printing them on Pictorico transparency film on an inkjet printer. The source image can be from a digital camera or from scanned film. The print-making process is a melding of new and old technology. The monochromatic tones can be controlled in the mixing of the chemicals for the emulsion. The printer, that's me, has total control of the process from the making of the negative to the emulsion and to the development of the final print. The whole process is labor-intensive and requires knowledge of the various steps, so in that sense it could be considered difficult; but the end result, seeing the fruit of your labor, is very rewarding.

Tell us about some creative photographic processes using Polaroid film.

I'm enchanted with the creative processes that are possible with Polaroid film. I am familiar and work with three of the processes, emulsion lifts, transfers, and SX-70 manipulation. All of these processes create a one-of-a-kind image that is unique. My favorite is the SX-70 manipulation. I use slide film to obtain my original image. The image is then transferred to the Polaroid film in a Daylab. This is basically an enlarger: it passes light through the slide, exposing it onto the Polaroid film. During the development process with SX-70 film the image can be manipulated by applying pressure to the mylar envelope that encases the image. This pressure and manipulation will cause changes as the chemicals are forming the image. At the end of this process a unique image will be produced. As this image is only three by three inches it can then be scanned to print in a larger format.

What is your experience with Infrared Photography. Do you do it with a digital camera or a film camera?

I like the surreal feel of infrared photography. The images I've made have been from a Sony digital camera. Unlike using film, the Sony's nightshot mode lets you see the image even though you have a dark 87 or 93 filter on the lens, and the whole process is simplified.

Tell us about the place you have traveled to that you have enjoyed the most from a photographic point of view.

I have made three trips to Italy in the last few years that have produced thousands of images of the places and people I have encountered. I spent a week this past May hiking in Cinque Terre, a National Park on the Ligurian Sea on Italy's west coast. The landscape and fauna are remarkably beautiful.

What place, that you have not been to yet, would you like to photograph? What things would you like to photograph there?

I have never been to Alaska, but that will be remedied this summer. I hope to encounter wildlife and vegetation that I have not seen before. I'd like to see the bears feeding as the salmon struggle upriver. I expect the landscape to be spectacular and I hope I can do justice to it.

Here is another another photo taken by Joel.


Joel said: "I came upon these cows while driving home from Vermont this summer. When I got out of the car the cows were in the distance. The center cow noticed me and slowly sauntered towards me until a fence was the only thing separating us. I like the way this photograph seems to show interaction between the subject and the camera, and also the memories of the day."

To see and read more visit Joel Schilling.

Note: All images are copyright the photographer.