Hungarian by birth, I grew up in a small town on the Atlantic coast of
Argentina during the period after WWII. It was there that just upon entering
high school I was introduced to photography by a biology teacher who emphasized
its application as a recording device for use along with a microscope.
Soon enough I owned a simple 127 size reflex camera. I made a darkroom in a closet at
home and by combining a negative of a
flashlight beam reflected off a wall with a real scene of the town square and contact
printing the combination I began creating, much to the consternation of friends and
relatives, unlikely scenes of flying saucers over the town square. Later that year, I
bought a camera I thought more suitable to
someone with "advanced" knowledge (it was an 828 Coronet Cub that looked like
In 1957 my family moved to the United States, to Boston. I
had "graduated" to an Agfa Silette 35mm camera. I received an old folding
camera from a family friend and decided to make an enlarger out of it. I had made
improvised enlargers earlier using
shoeboxes and similar nesting boxes but they were unwieldy and suffered from light
leaks. I fitted a juice can over the back of the folding camera, put a
lamp inside it, and mounted it on a support whose position could be
adjusted on a square wooden vertical post.
My decision in 1961 to attend enter the Photographic Science program at the Rochester
Institute of Technology (RIT) was greatly influenced by the electronic flash work of
MIT's Dr. Harold Edgerton. I visited his "Strobe Alley" and was impressed by the
photographs and the man. I saw the connection between science and
photography and it interested me. After completing my BFA, I went on to complete RIT's MFA program in Graphic Design. I have been with the
Rochester Institute of Technology in
one capacity or another ever since.
During my undergraduate years I began working as a photographic technician at an RIT lab
supervised by Dr. Kenneth C.D. Hickman. Dr. Hickman was a wonderful man,
full of energy, enthusiasm, curiosity
and generosity. He gave me interesting projects to work on and guided me in
their successful completion. He encouraged me to publish and to present at
professional society meetings and conferences. I have been doing that ever
While completing my last year of the BFA program, I encountered visiting instructor
Eugene Tulchin (of Cooper Union).
Unimpressed with my interest in sports photography, Tulchin
threatened to expel me from the program unless I demonstrated some
"creativity." I happened to see some photographs by George Silk
in Life magazine, Olympic sports done with a "modified camera where
the film moves past a slit, like in a photofinish camera." Experimenting with a
Minolta camera I had modified, it wasn't long before I was able to
almost duplicate Silk's images. Tulchin was so
impressed by my "newly found creativity" that he became an enthusiastic
of my work. Some years later I did share the truth with
him and we have been good friends ever since.
The photographs shown here are a result of my long-standing interest in this
fairly specialized application of photography known generically as "strip"
photography. There are several variations on the basic theme. What all of these
have in common is that they move the film past a narrow slit located just in
front of the film plane. Racetrack photofinish cameras use this method of
photography to generate images that indisputably depict the order of finish of
race participants; panoramic cameras capable of 360 degree horizontal coverage
also accomplish this feat by "scanning the scene" through a narrow slit.
types of aerial mapping cameras, military ballistic cameras, and other cameras
associated with unique applications, all use the same principle.
In the mid 1960's, I realized that one could apply "strip"
cameras for peripheral photography. This made possible the depiction of an
object's full outside surface.In peripheral photography the film in the camera is
continually in motion past a narrow slit while the object in front rotates. In this way,
the slit effectively
"scans" the periphery of an object over time.
This technique had already been extensively applied by archeological photography
specialists since the late 1890's for the reproduction of
designs drawn on
ancient Greek vases and Mayan pottery. In the automotive industry it has been employed
to record the wear patterns of pistons.
As part of my MFA thesis I produced a small body of work based primarily on
peripheral portraits. While all my early work was done with 35 mm materials, later on I
camera capable of using Polaroid "pack" type film and used it to conduct
workshops and demonstrations at lectures and conferences nationwide. After being spun
around on a small turntable and, hopefully, learning what peripheral
photography was all about (in less than 5 minutes!) my subjects would see their
unique and distorted portraits, usually laugh or smile at the unusual photograph and
it. After taking thousands of these photographs I was left with nothing
to show for it.
I refined a procedure I dubbed the "Phoenix" process which
allowed me to "rescue" for my records the opaque and normally unusable paper
created in the Polaroid process. This method consisted of rephotographing the Polaroid
paper negative as soon as possible with Polaroid's Polagraph 35mm film. Polagraph film,
being transparent and high contrast, partially corrects for the fact that the
original paper negative is opaque and low contrast. The fact that the film produces a
positive image means that the original's tonal distribution is maintained so
that the Polagraph copy can function as a negative, be placed in a standard
enlarger and used to produce normal paper enlargements. As it is exposed to light, the
paper negative exhibits some changes, the primary one a reversal of tonality called the
"Sabattier" effect, sometimes also referred to as
If you want to read more about the methods used in creating these images, several articles about the
peripheral technique as well as the Phoenix process are available off my
website. You can also see the general list of Articles. You'll find my home page at: