by Rob Bearden
Some photographers believe their strongest work comes from exploring their immediate surroundings. "I think of myself as a regional photographer," Loranc says, "but that does not mean the photography cannot be understood beyond the region. Right now people all over the United States indicate to me that regionalism, born of an informed attachment, has universal appeal." Loranc shoots most of his pictures within an hour's drive of his home in California but he is also interested in exploring his ancestral roots in Europe. For this reason he makes occasional photographic forays into Poland and Lithuania.
"I'm fascinated by the ancient churches of my homeland," he says. "These are holy spaces where millions of people have prayed for hundreds of years. They are places of great humility, and remind us how brief our lives are. I feel the same way when I'm photographing ancient groves of native oaks in California. I was unconscious of this when I began, but upon reflection, I think the oaks are just as sacred as the old cathedrals of Europe. They are sacred in that they have survived for so many years. I'm aware that the native people of California held all living things as divine. For me a grove of Valley Oaks is as sacred as any church in Europe."
"I think about how interconnected the world is," Loranc says. "When I'm out on a crisp winter's morning, shooting a stand of native oaks, I see oak galls hanging from the trees. These were once used to make the pyrogallol chemicals I use to develop my negatives. So the oak trees I am photographing played a part in the developer I use to process my negatives of those trees. It is healthy to remember that we are often linked to the natural world in ways we don't even suspect."
Loranc shapes the photo from start to finish. He operates a 4x5 Linhof field camera, shoots the majority of his photographs with a 210mm Nikkor lens, using Kodak's classic Tri-X film, and hand prints his negatives on multigrade fiber paper. Mr. Loranc is a firm believer that images can best and most genuinely be captured only through the use of film. As such, all of his prints are from film, and the only film he uses is Kodak’s Tri-X, which he has found to be reliable, consistent and, of utmost importance, only of the highest quality. The innate drama of the landscapes is reproduced through a variable split-toning (sepia and selenium) technique. All the printing, spotting, and archival mounting are done by the photographer.
Roman Loranc was born in Bielsko-Biala, Poland and emigrated to the United States in 1981. In 1984 he moved to California, and shortly thereafter fell in love with the Central Valley.
To contact Roman directly, please email him at: email@example.com.
**Majority of biography text borrowed from Black & White Magazine, Aug 2004, David Best and from Bloomsbury Review, Nov/Dec 2003, John A. Murray
Brief tour of my studio
In Roman's own words
I am a full-time traditional black and white photographer, and practice the methods used by Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Morley Baer and others in the ƒ-64 school of photography. My subjects include landscape, architecture and occasionally people as they are in their environment. I started photographing when I was 8-years-old, when I was given a small 35mm camera. I was immediately drawn to the magic of photography with that gift. But I wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the images, so I switched to large format. But I could not access large sheets of film, so I made my own glass negatives.
I still have these negatives.
I soon came to feel a fascination with the chemical photographic process which after exposure to light and immersion in developer, allows grains of silver to form first on the negative, and then again on a final print. It is pure alchemy to me and it is fun. I am inspired by beautiful paintings and my first inspiration as a visual artist came from the paintings of Chelmonski, Stanislawski, Paniewiz and Zaleski.
Early on I was also inspired by the work of Jan Bulhak, and Roman Vishniac.
Like many -- I photograph with a Linhof 4×5 field camera. A good deal of my work is done with a 210mm Nikkor lens. I only use Kodak Tri-X film, which I stock pile in my freezer because I feel uncertain about my ability to get film in the not-to-distant future. I develop my negatives in pyro using a Jobo processor. I print with Ilford glossy paper, which is archivally washed, all prints are selenium toned to ensure archival quality, and some prints are sepia toned with a special process, then the prints are archivally dry mounted and spotted. Every print is unique, and cannot be replicated 100%; as I print each one painstakingly by hand.