Neil Folberg
Leaf Aptus-II 12

"I had the privilege of studying photography with Ansel Adams. He loved technological advance and embraced it. He would have been just delighted to use this equipment!"

Neil Folberg

Neil Folberg uses his 80 MP Leaf Aptus-II 12 AFi to shoot gorgeous landscapes of the Middle Eastern desert and beyond. Born in San Francisco in 1950, Neil spent most of his childhood in the Midwestern United States, becoming interested in photography around 1966. In 1967 he began studies with Ansel Adams, the American landscape photographer. His current exposition, "Topography/Time/Israel" is on display at Flomenhaft Gallery, 547 W. 27th St, New York until December 15th.

"Photography's limits have always been set by technology and photographers have always pushed their vision to the very limit of the possible. That technological limit was raised for me when I acquired the Leaf Aptus-II 12 AFi back with its expanded dynamic range and its exquisite resolution. When I saw what it could do, I began to develop an esthetic that required that level of resolution and made appropriately large images. But it is worth noting that when I first tested the back against the previous 33MP model, I only made small prints but even so, the difference in depth and resolution was apparent.

When the art critic, William Meyers of the Wall Street Journal walked into my exhibition, he was struck immediately by the presence of these large prints and their levels of detail. He quickly contacted me to ask how I had achieved this, what kind of camera made these images with so much depth? He wrote in the article: '[Folberg's] Leaf [back], that captures 80 megabytes of information... produces prints of spectacular detail; incredibly small sheep and people are clearly discernible on the hillside in "Michmash Valley, Grazing" (2012). As the valley recedes in the distance, each successive hill is distinct. The effect is a convincing sense of depth and an uncanny reality; the unanticipated clarity lets us see the land as if for the first time... the Leaf captures time's etching with meticulous precision. Mr. Folberg understands that technology opens up possibilities, and uses it here to infuse his images of an ancient land with a temporal dimension.' Remember please that this is an art critic writing an art review!"

Read the full review here.

"I have rarely mentioned technical details in the past when discussing my work but have found it impossible not to discuss it now: people notice the clarity of these images and are astounded."

"Most of the sources of the Dead Sea have been diverted for other purposes so the water level is much, much lower than it ever was. The place where I am standing was covered by water a few years ago - now the fresh water springs that flow at this spot into the Dead Sea have been exposed as they create mini-canyons in the mud. Speaking of mud, I slipped just before making this image and fell on my left hand (the camera was in my right, fortunately!) and fractured my left elbow. I was trying hard not to get too close to the muddy precipice which could easily collapse under a person's weight. How I had the presence of mind to make this image with the pain that I felt I do not know. Maybe I figured that it hurt too much to screw-up the photo: the photo should at least justify the pain! I focused carefully to make sure that I had the mud and reeds in the foreground sharp and then checked the focus of these points as well as the distant horizon on the LCD screen, while checking the histogram. On film, capturing this level of details in deep shadows and mud with the the sun just about to rise above the brightening horizon, even with the graded neutral density filter, would have been impossible. I had no doubt whatsoever that I could pull this off easily with the Leaf."

"I used two images stitched together to get the vertical coverage that I needed. Software used was Capture One, Photoshop. The photograph has been desaturated but to my eye the color is entirely natural - it just lost the tint. I would have tried this image with the 4x5, but it never would have been as effective. You really must see this print up close to realize how much of a feeling of depth the incredible resolution of this back gives to the image. It seems cold and flat at first, from a distance, but when you move close, you see the defined forms and little bits of color and all of a sudden it 'snaps' into three-dimensions. This must be the print that got the critic's first attention, since it was what he talked about most."

In my first tests of the Leaf equipment I discovered that the B&W images made at ISO 50 had the delicate gradation and richness of the old, long discontinued Kodak Panatomic-X ASA 25 film. Here I used that tonality to record this scene. The print was made on Harman by Hahnemuhle Baryta Gloss Warmtone using a slight tint in Imageprint on an Epson 9800 and it has the deep tonality and color of selenium toned Agfa Portriga Rapid - an effect I have been unable to achieve for decades after those silver-rich papers were phased out."

Hide dock Show dock Back to top