Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Photographer finds right track

Express Staff Writer

Craig Wolfrom hangs a photograph he took in the Paintbrush Canyon in the Tetons.

Valley-based musicians know it and artists know it too: There are few venues for locals to display (or present) art. Fortunately, coffeehouses are picking up the slack. The Coffee Grinder in Ketchum, for instance, always has art on display. So does Zaney's in Hailey and Starbucks in Ketchum, which gives over a month at a time to an artist's work.

Craig Wolfrom arrived in the valley in August when his wife was hired to teach social studies at Wood River High School. Wolfrom, a stay-at-home dad (a 20-month-old and one on the way) likes his arrangement. He is an experienced freelance photographer who specializes in architecture, landscape, weddings and environmental work.

Before moving to the valley, Wolfrom lived in Truckee, Calif. and had approached that town's Starbucks about hanging some of his work there. They wanted him to fill out an application and then wait for a decision from on high. He never went through with it. Instead, upon moving, he asked the same thing of the Ketchum Starbucks. Here, the local management makes the decisions. He was told the month of November was available to display his work.

"It's great that Starbucks allows local artists to hang art here," he said as he hung his first show there.

There are seven images that will adorn the red brick walls for the month of November, and Wolfrom will be on hand during Gallery Walk The photographs are all for sale (framed or not) with 10 percent of the profits going to the Snake River Alliance.

His association with the Snake River Alliance is a condition of his other passion--the environment. Recently he donated prints to Idaho Rivers United for a fundraiser and visited the Idaho National Laboratory southeast of the Wood River Valley, near Arco, with a group from the valley taking photos for the Snake River Alliance.

He is currently working on a project with Snake River Alliance Development Director Vanessa Fry. His photographs will accompany the oral histories she is taking of surviving Idaho downwinders (people contaminated by nuclear fallout from U.S. bomb testing in the 1950s).

The photos in the current exhibition, he said, are random images taken over a 10-year period and had never been printed before. Wolfrom uses a Nikon 35 mm F4, and a Zone V 4x5 Field Camera. The images were developed using a new style of printing from slides, since the elimination of the R3 process. For anyone who is accustomed to taking slides, that was the process used to develop Ilfochrome slide film. Both Fuji and Kodak are discontinuing Type R paper and chemistry. Digital printing is now the wave of the future.

Wolfrom sends his film to Slideprinter in Denver where transparencies are then drum scanned, and printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper.

"It's what you call wet chemistry, like a reverse scan," he said. "I'm pretty sure this is the only way there'll be to print transparencies in the future. It's extremely high resolution. I'm pretty happy with the results."

Wolfrom, who graduated from Montana State University, as did his wife, has been "into photography since middle school."

"I think I'm on the right track," he said with a smile as he hung another dramatic photo.

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