Susan Harlin

Hello and welcome to my part of our ‘ever-growing’ web site. 

When I was young my Mother had a darkroom in our house. Mother was an artist and she would use her camera to capture what she wanted to paint on canvas. I had the opportunity to make a few contact prints, just enough to peak my curiosity but at the time music was my main interest. It seems that most photographers start out in music. I took piano lessons and drove my brothers crazy as I practiced every day. I even studied music in college.  From piano, I moved to organ and even harpsichord. I had quite a music room. When I moved to Texas, I had the opportunity to join a local camera club. Some of the members even had their own darkrooms. The photography bug reappeared. With my 35mm in hand, I photographed some of the local horse competitions. Gradually moving to nature and old buildings. My 35mm camera had been great for those action shots but was not the format that I needed for my new area of interest.

I moved to medium format with the purchase of a Mamiya RB67. It wasn’t long after that, I met JB and he introduced me to large format photography. What a different world. A totally new way of thinking and seeing. I quickly bought my first large format camera. . . a Zone VI 4×5. The next year, I purchased a Zone VI 8×10. It wasn’t long before I found a 4×10 horizontal panoramic camera on the Internet. The unique format was very appealing. Needless to say, that camera found its way to my doorstep. Occasionally, I would see something I wanted to photograph as a vertical with my 4×10 camera. This would involve turning the camera on its side which is not impossible but not very convenient.  JB saw the need to build me an interchangeable back so I could shoot vertical as well as horizontals. The interchangeable back was a temporary solution. The next camera that was added to the “family” was an 8×20 horizontal.

The following year, JB & I decided to purchase the necessary woodworking tools for him to build a dedicated 4×10 vertical camera for me. After finishing the vertical 4×10, JB started on a vertical 8×20 camera. Here is a LINK to the page that tells the behind the scenes construction of the vertical 4×10 and 8×20 cameras. JB set his photography work aside and spent most of a year developing the plans and building these two cameras for me.

In 2007, I made a conscious decision to work solely in the panoramic format. I have separate backpack systems for the two 4×10 cameras. This provides the opportunity to quickly grab a backpack and tripod and “chase the light.” When working closer to the vehicle, I use my 8×20 cameras.

The 4×10 finished photographs are enlargements and the 8×20 finished photographs are contact prints. My preferred paper is the Ilford Warmtone MG FB. This paper along with the chemicals that we use provide the desired finished photographs. Click on my Gallery pages to view some of my photographs and thanks for stopping by.

Susan Harlin