Fine Art Master Photographer Reveals His Thoughts Behind Two Scenes

Roman Loranc is described by many as a modern-day master of fine art black and white — or at least neutral tone — photography. In two short anecdotes, Loranc shares the thoughts behind some of his imagery.

Below are two stories that are written from Loranc’s first-person perspective. The first discusses a photo he captured of the Columbia River — specifically, the area around Mount Hood in Oregon — and the second discusses a scene where he compares how composition affects the strength of an otherwise nearly identical image. This set of stories is brought to you courtesy of PetaPixel’s partnership with ELEMENTS Magazine. ELEMENTS is the new monthly magazine dedicated to the finest landscape photography, insightful editorials and fluid, clean design. Use the PETAPIXEL10 code for a 10% discount off the annual subscription.

Columbia River

Once I was camping on the bank of the Wild River and writing an essay about nature and photography. I am so grateful for this oasis and wild places like it that have been protected. But we have destroyed over 80% of the wetlands and woodlands in California. That is why I have been photographing the remnants of these places. I try to photograph places that are not known or are not considered photogenic. I am always searching for beauty in the landscape in defense of the traditional values of photography.

In defining beauty, Thomas Aquinas (1224/6-1274) said, “It is that which pleases when seen.” Beauty is a useful word, especially for a photographer, because it implies light — light of overwhelming intensity. His interpretation has a profound meaning.
I enjoy uncontrived photographs like those taken by the old masters such as Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Roman Vishniac, August Sander, and Jan Bulhak. I have been fascinated by the Columbia River and with the Lewis and Clark expedition for quite some time so we have made several trips to the river to photograph.

One evening, we were driving to dinner and saw incredible lightning, so I decided we would be late for dinner. The exposure was five minutes, which was not enough, but it was already dark when I finished the exposure. You never know when a perfect situation happens, so you should always carry your camera and film with you. You must be committed.
There are stories and beauty in many places. Beauty doesn’t just reside in the famous locations everyone visits. You must be ready, take some chances, ask, and listen. Then look, and you have the chance to see beauty.

Homeward Bound and Homeward Bound Study I

This is a good example of a composition that’s either vertical or horizontal.

Both images were done at the same time and place. I owe many thanks to my local veterinarian, Dr. Dave, who accompanied me on my expeditions and sometimes protected me from being shot by local ranchers. It always helps to find a local friend people won’t shoot at! Dave introduced me to this place but warned me never to drive there in the winter.

As you can see, the vertical composition is a lot stronger. You should always try to compose vertical first, although it can’t always be done. All my images are shot with a 4×5 camera and TriX film, and developed in PMK pyro. All images are printed on Ilford Multigrade paper, selenium and split toning.

The article is courtesy of ELEMENTS MagazineELEMENTS is the new monthly magazine dedicated to the finest landscape photography, insightful editorials, and fluid, clean design. Inside you will find exclusive and in-depth articles and imagery by the best landscape photographers in the world such as Freeman Patterson, Bruce Barnbaum, Rachael Talibart, Charles Cramer, Hans Strand, Erin Babnik, and Tony Hewitt, to name a few. Use the PETAPIXEL10 code for a 10% discount off the annual subscription.

About the author: Roman Loranc is a modern-day master of fine art black and white photography. He was born in the city of Bielsko-Biala, southwestern Poland, in 1956 during the communist era. In 1982, at 26 years of age, he immigrated to Madison, Wisconsin, and in 1984 he moved from the Midwest to Modesto, California. Much of his early, better-known photographic work was created in California’s Central Valley. He moved to Northern California near Mt. Shasta in 2006 where he currently resides.

Roman Loranc’s newest book, Traces, features photographs of tules with poems by Robert Lax and an essay by Dr. Anthony Bannon, the former Executive Director of George Eastman House. The book had been in production for over a year as he and his publisher developed a special printing process to reproduce the photographic images as authentically as possible.