About Powell

Ed E. Powell

I've included this section for the clamoring fans who want to know more about me (okay, so maybe it's only my mother). Well, here it is, mom: the Photographer Bio, Statement, Awards, and some information about the prints.

For twenty-five years, my free time was spent cycling and backpacking. Traveling in that manner allowed me to see and fully appreciate the sights of my journeys, and to feel them—the cold, the heat, the wind, and whatever else the environment delivered. This, to me, was really living, and I always had a camera to preserve something of the experience.

In 1996, degenerative spine disease forced me off the bicycles entirely, but I'm still able to take short hikes with a pack if I keep the weight on my hips. My experiences on the trail and on the bicycle provide me with strong, personal insight into what the view "feels" like. I look for ways to capture not only what I see, but how it feels to be there to see it. My relevant work in graphic arts, telecommunications and film has given me experience and skill to deliver that feeling. I look for opportunities in line, structure, perspective, dominant and subordinate elements, and I use contrast and color in my prints to elicit the mood and feeling of being there.

Colorado Cycling

Photography enables me to preserve, share and communicate the beauty of the real world in which we live, with a diverse set of emotions in perceiving that world. Each photograph is a slice of something real, in the manner of peelings from an onion: thin shells of time and space, surrounding and surrounded by other shells. From lonely solitude to the joy of shared vistas, I offer slivers of reality and try to put my audience into a sense of discovery and being there.

My Approach and Attitude

Death Valley Hiking

I use the art, craft and magic of photography to create invigorating views of our world. My goal is not to document reality, but rather to reveal it, explore it and create images that allow others to appreciate and experience it. Photographers are advised to "expose for the shadows and print for the highlights." I take that a step further and expose for the view and print for the mood. I try to expose the film or photo sensor to a refreshing and stimulating composition, and then take further control of color and contrast in the print - not to change the view, but to achieve an image that elicits the feeling of being there.

I have no interest in making "McPhotos." A pretty scene is not enough; I want my images to enliven a room rather than merely decorate it. There must be impact to gain our attention and a personal response to further our appreciation of "being there." I work with light and composition to convey the mood and feel of what I see and what really is. When we see a stunning vista, there is some graphic structure to it that commands our attention and there is color and content that elicit our response. My photographs work with that structure to establish impact and they work with color to support a mood. These elements are the light and polish that make the gems of nature and humanity sparkle.

I don't blur, diffuse or otherwise affect my photographs to mimic other art forms. Water colors, sketches and oil paintings are the domain of other artists: my photographs look like photographs. I present subjects in a manner that reveals the strengths of the art form with continuous tone color, luminosity, and generosity of detail.

Reviewing a Portfolio at Morro Photo Expo

Living with photographs that we especially enjoy, and seeing them on our walls daily, can affect our mood and disposition in positive ways. We can relate to their reality. They stimulate us to slow down and perceive the beauty that surrounds us, and they may serve as tethers to the real world in the face of commercial and media fantasies. We shall be better lovers.

The Prints

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Until 2009, I owned only film cameras: 35mm and 6x7 medium format. Although I expect to continue using the 6x7 film camera, I'll now use digital for subjects I previously photographed with 35mm film.

Still, I've embraced the digital photography revolution for years. When I've got a good image on film, I scan it with the big Nikon film scanner. This gives me about 24 megapixels from 35mm film. My scans yield 100 megapixels (!) from medium format film. Everything I used to do in the darkroom is now done digitally. Completed image files are then loaded to a LightJet or Noritsu printer, and projected by laser light onto Fuji Crystal Archive chromogenic paper, or loaded to the Epson 7880 with 8-color UltraChrome K3TM inks.

The LightJet 5000 exposes light sensitive paper with red, green and blue lasers, and it is recognized as the most precise photo imager in the world. These are not giclée or inkjet reproductions. They are true photographic prints with the wide color gamut, luminosity and archival properties that we are accustomed to seeing in exquisite color photography. There are no dots; this is a continuous tone imaging process. The LightJet people claim that an inkjet printer would need a resolution of 4000 dpi or more to equal the resolution of the LightJet 5000. That may be an overstatement, and there is, after all, a lot more going on in a fine print than the number of dots. But the images produced by the LightJet have earned it worldwide respect and put it at the top of the industry.

The newer Noritsu printers have not yet earned the reputation of the LightJet, but they demonstrate one reason that I outsource my completed files rather than investing in a high-end printer. They are among the latest generation of continuous tone laser-light printers and follow the LightJet as "the new kids on the block." Since I have no need to amortize hardware costs, I have already put the new kid to work. When used with Fuji Crystal Archive paper, the results are equal to the LightJet. The LightJet, however, can handle larger print sizes.

Fuji Crystal Archive Paper is one of Fuji's premier photographic papers. It is exceptionally sharp, with rich tonal gradation, excellent color saturation, and unsurpassed color stability. In independent tests conducted by Wilhelm Imaging Research, Crystal Archive paper is rated nearly twice the display longevity of all other chromogenic papers tested.

The Epson 7880 has a slightly wider color gamut than the Lightjet or Noritsu and Fuji paper, though not quite so brilliant overall. It has a longer archival rating when used with Ultrachrome inks. The 7880 is a premium choice for many color and monochrome prints, but it can't match the Lightjet or Noritsu for dense blacks and saturation of dark colors. It's ability to produce fine detail is excellent.


This section was getting rather long. I think this condensed version provides sufficient information without putting anyone to sleep.

Best of Show
Autumn Arts Festival

This is an annual art show of two-dimensional works. I believe that 2008 is the first year that paintings and photographs were judged separately. There is always a lot of outstanding work shown. I have won several awards at this exhibition, but when you look at all the entries you have to wonder how they ever get narrowed down to the awards. They also have a "People's Choice" Award, and visitors to the show are allowed to vote for their top three favorites. Here's something interesting: so far as I know, the People's Choice has never coincided with the Judge's selections.

Santa Barbara Fair

In addition to many First, Second and Third Place ribbons, I have received the Minetti Award and ten Best of Show Awards at this fair (more than that now, but I've lost count). But you never know how these things are going to go; a Best of Show at one venue can be completely ignored at another. Images are scored by one person at this fair, but not the same person each year. Photographers with a consistent style will typically do very well or very poorly here in any particular year. Another year, and another judge, could yield very different results. I've been fortunate that my style has usually "connected" with the preference of the judges who have done the scoring over the years.

California Mid-State Fair

My photographs have earned many awards here, including several First Place ribbons, Judge's Award, and Best of Show. I've been told that entries are sometimes judged by committee at this fair. That plays to advantage for "safe" images of good quality: the judges each award them mid to high scores, and the average results in a good score reflecting that consistency. Images that are momentarily disorienting, "outside the box," or profoundly graphic at the expense of "warm and fuzzy" sometimes don't fare so well. They elicit strong reactions, but not consistent reactions. Some like 'em and some hate 'em. The result is an average score that averages out to be...average. And average doesn't get ribbons. Ribbons awarded by committees usually go to "safe" images, and sometimes they are not the most remarkable images of the show.