Ray Tysdal: The States Project: South Dakota
I am excited to start the week off with the unique and detailed black and white wildlife photographs of Ray Tysdal. Through his use of high-speed film and experimental darkroom techniques, Ray presents the animals center stage in all their glorious natural beauty. The buffalo of the Great Plains are his central characters – grand and regal – as if posing in front of an imaginary seamless backdrop, sometimes staring straight into the lens, as if on cue. A close up of a bighorn sheep looks to be in a portrait studio setting instead of in the wild. And a baby mountain goat atop a rock formation is beautifully lit as if on a constructed set or in a diorama setting. The wildlife of South Dakota are one of the state’s treasures, and Ray’s signature style makes natural superstars of these beauties. Their personalities and true character are on full display, making our love for them even stronger.
Ray Tysdal was born in Nebraska in the late 1940s and has lived in western South Dakota since 1949. For six decades he has lived and photographed in the Black Hills and on the Dakota prairie. Educated at South Dakota State and Black Hills State Universities in journalism and secondary education he spent little time in either field, working instead as a gold miner, farmer, sheep ranch hand, and as a ditch rider, watermaster and dam tender on the first federal government-sponsored irrigation project in the U.S. A lifetime of hiking, fishing, hunting, farming and livestock handling has given him an understanding and appreciation of the visual richness of his environment.
By separating animals from their natural environments and presenting them as black and white portraits we are able to observe the personality, emotion, energy and power that might otherwise be taken for granted.
The development of 35 mm cameras, fast films and fast telephoto lenses gave us the tools for photographing wildlife. These developments coincided with the development of color film giving birth to modern wildlife photography. I have gone back to concentrate on black & white images of wildlife, an area that has been largely ignored. My training in journalistic press photography taught me the beauty of “grainy” images. Using even faster films (I use a 3200 ISO speed film which I push to speeds of 6,400, 12,800 and even 25,600) gives me photographs with even larger grain. I experiment with a darkroom technique known as reticulation (combining higher developer temperature with lower fixer temperature) to increase the impressionistic characteristics of the biggest grain possible. I rely heavily on the darkroom techniques of pushing development, dodging and burning, and tone my prints with selenium to give them archival permanence.
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John Banasiak: The States Project: South DakotaFebruary 28th, 2016
Willi White: The States Project: South DakotaFebruary 27th, 2016
Alice Bailey: The States Project: South DakotaFebruary 26th, 2016
Bob Newland: The States Project: South DakotaFebruary 25th, 2016
Aaron C. Packard: The States Project: South DakotaFebruary 24th, 2016