In the film world, there is positive and negative film, but each must be converted into a print form. One method used by Dieter Kohn on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Florida skips the film phase altogether – directly exposing Kodak Ektacolor paper for a ready to go, full-size print moments after capture.
This craziness is only possible with the help of a 500lb large format view camera. Kohn got the idea originally years a before he actually put it into use, but he ran into a snag. The Kodak paper he wanted to expose for the direct prints had an ASA (ISO) equivalent rating of 5-7. In other words, it required a ton of light in order to get a proper exposure.
When Kohn originally had the idea this sort of light output wasn’t possible. Kohn talked to experts across the globe, and he came back with many answers, but the common theme was that the idea was great, but that he would never have a chance to use it. That soon changed with the help of a new (at the time) 30,000WS strobe setup that gave him the light he needed to bring his idea to life.
The resulting images are one of a kind, striking, and unique. The downside obviously being that you get one image per shot, no reprints. Kohn’s method is sorta cumbersome, given the giant camera which hardly even fits in the room he has it in, but the process itself is rather simple.
It is fun, one off projects like this that are inspiring digital photographers to rediscover film, experiment with it, and explore its potential. In a digital world where the purpose of a camera is cut and dry and without much variation, this method takes us back to a time when ingenuity could bring interesting ideas into the realm of reality.