My photographs are made with either a large or medium format film camera. Digital technology has irrevocably changed photography, and I use a digital camera for color, but for black and white I prefer the look and substance of gelatin silver prints. I process my prints for maximum possible permanence. Such “archival” prints will last, in Ansel Adams’ opinion, approximately 250 years before the begin to fade or crack.
I also prefer the physical and tactile experience of traditional photographic processes, from mechanical shutters and film holders to darkroom work. I was ten when I made my first photographic print, and it seemed like magic to watch the photograph—my photograph—emerge under the dim amber safelight. Thousands of prints later it still seems magic, as I wait to see how close I have come to capturing my vision. Using mouse and monitor to manipulate a digital image just isn’t an equivalent experience. Photographers don’t “take” photographs, Ansel Adams insisted, they make them. Digital photography has led to would-be photographers “taking” thousands of pictures in hope of “getting” one good one. I refuse to capitulate to this “million monkeys” approach. I continue to make my photographs as much as a sculptor makes his statue or a painter his painting. It is a discipline. To make traditional black and white photographs requires skills that are acquired only through reflective practice.
A Brief Biography
I became interested in the photography of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston as a child. I began photographing at the age of ten, developing and printing pictures taken with my Brownie, and soon advanced to more sophisticated cameras.
I earned a B.A. in psychology from Stanford University, where I also studied both Eastern and Western religions. I continued my study of religion at the University of Chicago, where I received a doctorate. It was during this period that I became a serious photographer, roaming the streets with my new Nikon, photographing the people and events of the sixties. After graduation in 1970 I returned to California and the photography of Adams and other western photographers.
It was a good time to become involved in photography. Many of the old masters of the medium were still alive. In 1972 I purchased my first large format camera and received a small fellowship from the Friends of Photography, an organization founded by Ansel Adams. This marked the beginning of a time of learning from Adams, Brett Weston, Imogen Cunningham, and the man who would be my greatest influence, Wynn Bullock.
I established myself as a commercial photographer, and began to exhibit my fine art work in galleries in California, Oregon, and New Mexico. I expanded my landscape horizons while working as a freelance photographer for New Mexico Magazine, and saw my work published in the Friends of Photography Untitled Quarterly. 1982 marked the beginning of a long hiatus from photography while I worked as a winemaker in Sonoma County.
In 1994 I returned to photography for good. I now exhibit color as well as black and white, since digital photography has made archival color practical, but my preferred work remains the black and white landscape. A two–artist exhibit, "Photography As a Spiritual Journey," showed my work with that of Wynn Bullock, and I have taught at the "Learn From the Masters" workshops at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre.
I now live at the mouth of the Columbia River, in Astoria, Oregon, where I continue the practice of landscape photography.
Dwight Caswell's Work at RiverSea Gallery
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Exhibits at RiverSea Gallery