As a laboratory medical scientist who is an avid photographer, the thought processes I have used to explore scientific ideas and concepts have given me insights into the decisions I make when I am capturing visual images. Because scientific analysis requires that extraneous variables be minimized, I attempt to minimize the elements of the scenes I photograph so I can eliminate all but the essential components of a composition. I often distill my work into lines and curves regardless of whether I am photographing architecture or nature.
I have chosen to specialize in black and white photography because I have great flexibility during the development process. My chemistry background leads me to enjoy experimenting with a variety of exposure and development techniques for each photograph. For example, the measurement of light, the accurate use of chemicals, time and temperature are second nature to me. The scientific method, however, does not lend itself to the artistic creation of emotional content. This creative ability cannot be learned from textbooks, but from observing ones surroundings and then responding internally to the inner self. I often ask myself why does one image work and another fail. And there have been times when I knew this was the “one.” Printing the picture allows me to create emotions, change reality, while I manipulate tones.
None of my prints are identical to the exact reality of the scene. All have been changed through development and printing techniques to some extent. They are representative of an essence of an image, not as copies of reality. Some images take a great deal of effort to change the tonal quality of the scene. New challenges and interpretations occur each time an image is reprinted and are my artistic interpretation.
Harvey J Kupferburg has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, a doctorate in pharmacy and a doctorate in pharmacology from the
. He is now retired after working 32 years at the National Institutes of Health in the field of epilepsy research. His interest in photography extends over six decades. Presently he uses all camera formats, but prefers 4X5 negative.
He achieved the master’s level in black and white prints at the Greater Washington Counsel of Camera Clubs (GWCCC). Three of his images won 1st place in the Washington Post’s B&W competition. The Maryland Federation of Art, Washington School of Photography and the Howard County Arts Council have selected several of his photographs for exhibition in juried competition. One of his images won “Grand Prize Ribbon” at the Montgomery County Fair. He has had a solo exhibition at the National Institute of Health Clinical Center. His mentors and teachers include Bruce Barnbaum, Don Kirby, Stu Levy, Ray McSavney and Huntington Witherill.