Mountain Ranch

I am happy to report that my collection of photo books is growing.

Last week, I picked up Mountain Ranch by Michael Crouser. It’s been on my list ever since I heard Michael Crouser talk about his book on NPR.

The book doesn’t disappoint. Actually that is a gross understatement. This book is a treasure. It’s a collection of black and white photographs the photographer made during a series of visits to the same Colorado ranch over 10 years.

And the entire project is made with Kodak Tri-X film.

In the afterword, Michael Crouser shares his thoughts about why he chose film. In his words:

All the images in this book were shot on Kodak Tri-X film, either with a Pentax 67 or a Nikon F4, and when someone would see me loading my cameras, I was invariably asked, with near disbelief, why I use film. I have always believed that how you say something is as important as what you say. And if you feel that photography is a form of personal expression and a reflection of yourself — which I do — then everything you do in making the photograph matters. For me, that means tactile photography. It means holding, loading, rewinding, and stashing film away in a pocket. Maybe even dropping the film accidentally in the dirt and going back to look for it. It means processing film in liquid, hanging it in the air, and printing the image with light on paper. It means using chemicals that still remind me of the first time I smelled them forty years ago. The prints dry overnight on a screen and are held up to a light in the morning to judge their qualities. Sometimes I feel that my photographs have more in common with ceramics, or even mud pies, than with digital photographs. This isn’t retro, this is who I am and who I’ve always been, and whether the viewer knows it or not, these photographs are as much a reflection of myself as they are a record of the last vestiges of an American tradition.

My goodness, that is a beautiful way of describing the magic of making photographs with film, isn’t it.