The Students of Deep Spring College

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James Bleifus

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Recently I received a copy of Michael A. Smith's THE STUDENTS OF DEEP SPRINGS COLLEGE from another APUG member and thought I would post a quick review.

STUDENTS isn't what I expected. When I think MAS I think of landscapes and cityscapes. I don't think of portraiture. But that's what this book is; a portrait of the students. Two portraits of each student are published side by side, a more formal portrait and an environmental portrait while underneath each portrait is a small autobiographical narrative by the student. The combination of portrait and narrative is pleasing.

In addition to the photography, the printing also leapt out at me. I have one other MAS book and it isn't printed nearly this good. It's not printed poorly, but it doesn't compare to this one. Students is quadtone while I believe the other was duo. This book is gorgeous. If this is the way that Lodima Press's Edward Weston book is published then I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Cheers,

James
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Glad to see this book getting some notice. I was a student at Deep Springs from 1984-86 and photographed every member of the student body myself while I was there. Michael and Paula wandered into the College a few years later on the way to Bristlecone, and ended up teaching there for a semester, which is when he made the photographs. Too bad it didn't happen earlier!

I still go back and print those negatives from that era occasionally. Last summer some people from my era got together out at the College, and I made a group portrait and sent everyone a folio containing the group photo along with individual pictures from when we were students 20 years ago.

My photo in the APUG article in _B&W Magazine_ was also made on that recent visit to Deep Springs.
 

Jeremy

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I agree that this is one great book and I wish I had known about this school before I had gone off to college, but what's past is past!
 

c6h6o3

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Michael swears that the reproductions in that book rival the original prints in quality. I find that really hard to believe. I've never seen any of the originals from Students of Deep Springs College, but I have had the opportunity to compare some of Paula's prints to their simulacra in her book Natural Connections. There's no comparison. I'll bet those Students...prints are really something.
 

Jeremy

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c6h6o3 said:
Michael swears that the reproductions in that book rival the original prints in quality. I find that really hard to believe. I've never seen any of the originals from Students of Deep Springs College, but I have had the opportunity to compare some of Paula's prints to their simulacra in her book Natural Connections. There's no comparison. I'll bet those Students...prints are really something.

I agree. I have compared some of Paula's prints first hand to her books and while the books are the best I have ever seen in terms of print quality (well, more than just print quality, they are all wonderful books) her prints have an extra sparkle, or snap, that seems to be lacking in the books when compared next to each other. Then again, I hope to print as well as the book copies let alone the real thing :smile:
 
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James Bleifus

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David A. Goldfarb said:
Glad to see this book getting some notice. I was a student at Deep Springs from 1984-86 and photographed every member of the student body myself while I was there.

My photo in the APUG article in _B&W Magazine_ was also made on that recent visit to Deep Springs.

David, how did you ever find out about the college before attending?
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Deep Springs sends out a mailing to students who do well on the SAT and they are listed in most of the guidebooks to colleges. I also had a friend who attended a Telluride Association Summer Program, which is run by an organization that is historically connected to Deep Springs, so he knew a little about it, and when we made a tour of various colleges on the East Coast together, we hunted down a few Deep Springs alums along the way to see if it was for real, and it was.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Here's a scan of the folio I mentioned above (470Kb)--

http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/temp/DS2004Foliosm.jpg

The group shot was made during the summer of 2004 with a Tech V 4x5", 90/8.0 Super-Angulon (one of the few LF lenses I have with a self-timer!), I think on Efke PL100/ABC pyro.

The subsequent shots where most of us had more hair and were in better shape were shot from 1984-86 on 35mm with my Canon F-1N (which I still use), probably mostly on Plus-X souped in D-76. I probably used my Tamron SP90/2.5 (which I also still have) for most of these.

The prints are all 5x7" Ilford MGIV RC (I figure these are meant to be passed around) developed in Agfa Neutol WA and were all made at the same time.

The folio is a 100% digital fabrication made in a really old version of Aldus PageMaker and printed on an HP LJ5 on heavy recycled paper stock from a surplus paper outlet, but the signature is analog.
 

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In years gone past we owned the Sears Catalog store in Tonopah Nevada. I learned to repair appliances by default because I couldn't get anyone else to do it reliably. One day I got a call from Sears begging me to go to Deep Springs College and repair a Kenmore washer that a faculty wife had bought in Bishop Ca. I explained the Bishop was closer than Tonopah. No good, the guy in Bishop flat refused to go out there and Sears was in a bind because the lady was smart enough to buy a maintenance agreement. We will pay any fee they said. So I loaded a brand new Kenmore on the pickup so I'd have a good supply of parts, and I made a rather pleasant and profitable day of it! I pass DSC any time I venture into the Ancient Bristlecone Forest which is at least a couple of times a year. I wonder if the kids would like a LF workshop sometime. I have enough gear to get a half dozen of them fired up. We still live in Tonopah Nevada.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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That's a very Deep Springs story. I wonder why the Bishop guy refused to go out to DS. Probably just would have taken up too much of his day, though you would expect that if someone is in business in that kind of rural area, long drives to out-of-the-way places would be par for the course.

They might be up for a workshop. They have a well equiped darkroom and students who use it. I go out there about once a year for a committee meeting now, and my parents live in Vegas, so I'm occasionally in the neighborhood for other reasons. We should meet up sometime. I love to photograph out there.
 

Tom Duffy

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David,
You and Michael Smith have something in common - You can both put "yearbook photographer/photography editor" on your resumes and, at the same school, to boot. :smile:
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Yep. Actually, the time I photographed everyone it was for an upcoming trustees' meeting. They wanted to be able to put names with faces, so I printed up a set of wallet sized photos for each of the trustees.
 
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James Bleifus

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David A. Goldfarb said:
Here's a scan of the folio I mentioned above (470Kb)--

http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/temp/DS2004Foliosm.jpg

David, I'm slow getting back to this thread but I like the way your images resonate with Michael's. Looking through the book again I think my two favorite images are the environmental portraits of Owen Gjertsen and John-Henry Behrens. Although I'm fond of all the images I think these two are particularly awesome.

Cheers,

James
 
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c6h6o3 said:
Michael swears that the reproductions in that book rival the original prints in quality. I find that really hard to believe. I've never seen any of the originals from Students of Deep Springs College, but I have had the opportunity to compare some of Paula's prints to their simulacra in her book Natural Connections. There's no comparison. I'll bet those Students...prints are really something.

I would say that the Deep Springs does come very, very close to matching the original prints. Paula's first book, NC was made in 1994, and was printed by Gardner Lithographic, the best that could be done at the time. It does not match the prints. But, DSC was the first of the Lodima books to be printed by Salto in Belgium @ 600 line screen quadtone. The owner of Salto is as fanatical about his reproductions as M+P are about thier prints. That is why the print with him.

Of course no reproductions will have the presence of a finely crafted photograph. That is why a photograph remains so much more valuable than the best of all reproductions.

As a side note, when ever I wrap an order for a Deep Springs book I take a few seconds each time to look at the picture on the back cover. I grew up visiting the Owen's Valley, and that picture brings very good feelings everytime I see it.
 
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