WORKING NOTES for the exhibition

SAMUEL WEST HISER | works in progress opens Friday, July 6th (2012) in the Photography Gallery at the Workout & Tennis Center, Airport Road, West Tisbury. The show runs through the month of July. Gallery open daily.

"Ag Hall fr Northeast" | copper plate photogravure

My teacher, Kathy Rose, says that learning how to print is learning how to see. She says they are the same thing. Standing next to her in the darkroom in January 2009, I thought I knew exactly what she was saying.

After weeks going back out in the field, I determined that making photographs slowly, with deliberate care, is like learning to crawl all over again. So much of quotidian experience calls upon an acquired technique of numbing, canceling and filtering out useless information or, rather, information for which we reckon no immediate need. The reverse-engineering of such a habit takes unbelievable energy and the kind of dedicated practice one uses when learning to read or learning how to play paradiddles evenly.

To engage the shape, the hue and paradox of our environment with discretion and without distraction is to bring the universe inside.

My teacher, Kathy – she meant learning to print is learning to see deeply. For me this means learning to be still.

Tembo Wengi #4 | digital print


The images presented here were made with either a Hasselblad 500 C/M, Pentax 6×7, Sinar Norma, Graflex Crown Graphic, a Holga or a Canon 1D MkII.

All the black & white work, captured on film, is done with normal lenses and the color work, all captured digitally, is done with a long telephoto.


These artist’s proofs are from three different projects. The trees are from the chapters of a book called Bilder von Baümen (Pictures of Trees). The East African elephants are material from a family trip to Tanzania in August 2011 in the Tarangire and Ruaha national parks.

"Gate J" | gelatin silver print

The elephants comprise the series entitled Tembo Wengi (Herd of Elephants). The barns are from a documentary series for photogravure called Buildings: Spirit, Soil & Soul.

At the last minute, prints were added to the show from a fourth project, soccer photographs of the New England Revolution in MLS. These seemed suitable for the Men’s Locker Room.


Fomapan/Arista, Kodak Tri-X, Fuji Acros, Rollei Retro, Efke in formats 4×5, 6×7, 6×6 & APS-H cropping digital sensor.


The darkroom monochrome proofs were split-grade printed with the enlarger upon Ilford RC Variable Contrast paper.

The digital prints are from Canon RAW files which were exposure- and color-managed in Adobe Lightroom and printed with Epson Claria inks on an Epson 1400 on MOAB Entrada Rag paper. I work to keep colors true in the camera by using a custom white-balance, set for each lighting change with a grey card; this minimizes the need for color-enhancement in post-processing.

I am learning copper plate photogravure from Paul Taylor (Renaissance Press) using his technique of plate making from an Epson/Pictorico digital transparency positive. The one -gravure featured here is printed on Arches Cover with a 50/50 mix of Charbonnel and Stiff Black inks.

Samuel West Hiser
West Tisbury

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