While on assignment for the University of Tennessee Beacon newspaper in 1969, Don photographed a student hidden in the bushes behind a row of riot police. That photograph eventually made its way into a 1970 issue of Esquire magazine, which also became one of Esquire's top photos of the year. Don was also published in Newsweek as well as other national publications. While in college, he was featured in two solo exhibitions of his photography at the University of Tennessee. After his college years, Don was involved with a small group of photographers interested in photography as an art form. They were known as the Tangent Photography Group. Their goal was to broaden their vision as art photographers. As a result of their efforts, they procured numerous group exhibitions in various major cities throughout the Southeastern United States.
In 1975 he was extremely fortunate to study directly with Ansel Adams at his home in Yosemite National Park.
Don was now well into his professional career and had entered regional and national competitions and received numerous awards including three Kodak Gallery Awards. A number of these award-winning images were included in international touring exhibitions. He received his Tennessee Professional Certification in 1981 as well as his Master of Photography degree through the Professional Photographers of America in 1985.
The Technique Of Creating Radiographs
The process of producing these radiographs is challenging. The equipment used for floral images is very different from traditional medical x-ray equipment in that it is comprised of various components obtained from discarded equipment, whereas, for the shells and tin toys, I am using traditional medical equipment. High speed photographic films and medical mammography film is used. The specimen is placed directly on top of the film in the position required to see the image. An x-ray tube is placed directly above the specimen. An appropriate energy ranging from 4KV to 150KV (KV is 1,000 volts) is applied to the tube resulting in exposures ranging from half a second to 15 minutes. These radiographic negatives are developed in the traditional photographic method using a higher contrast developer. The resulting negatives have a very long tonal scale and are not well suited to the traditional photographic print process. Because of this, I will then take the negative, make a very high-resolution digital scan, and make refinements on my computer. The resulting file is then printed using a digital archival carbon printing system.
The images produced are 100% carbon pigment based printed on the highest quality acid-free rag watercolor paper. The pigments contain no dyes, which results in a truly archival print with exquisite tonality and color. These prints have been referred to as a modern-day gravure process. They have a greater longevity than traditional silver gelatin prints. Tests have indicated a life span of greater than 100 years.
Photography has been a long-term interest and fascination since I was a child of five. My father and grandfather were both accomplished amateur photographers. Watching my father develop and print black and photographs seemed like magic. At the age of five, I took my mother's 620 Ansco box camera in hand and made my first black and white photos. My interest grew rapidly from that moment until I received a Brownie for my seventh birthday. I shot so much film that my father took me by the hand and led me to the darkroom and started teaching me the art of black and white printing.
As a young student I became very interested in science. Growing up in Oak Ridge and Knoxville, there were abundant resources for a student of science. I became interested in how I might be able to blend my photographic and science interests. After 40 years, I still have a passion for photography and science. Through x-ray I am able to capture the hidden inner beauty of a plant or shell or even a man-made object.