“It took half a day or longer just to make the plate, and if you have a spot or any kind of blemish on that plate, you’ve got to make a new one,” explained Jackson photographer David Brookover.
A few weeks back, Brookover described his lengthy, painstaking photogravure process to a rapt group of gallery visitors. The photographer is introducing the public to his latest set of photographs, images that include his new Andalusian horses series and fresh wildlife photographs taken in the Yellowstone region. Visitors were awed.
Working with large photographic plates, exposures, rinsing, transfering negatives—it all takes time. Brookover’s newest works have kept him out of his gallery a bit more than usual. He’s traveled extensively to capture the normally reticent breed of horse, and as this is a new direction for Brookover (he’s also created his first new color photograph in years) he’s honing each image to perfection. Consummate tone, color, texture and detail—and the highest archival quality distinguish his work.
In the old days, Brookover told his audience, copper plates were the norm; those plates were capable of turning out high numbers of editions. But Brookover only makes editions of 10, using metal polymer plates. And besides, he says, there are so many chemicals needed to transfer images onto a copper plate that “it wouldn’t be good for a lot of fish in the rivers, it’s nasty stuff.” The biggest plate size Brookover is using measures 20 x 30″.
Brookover’s images are bright, yet soft. In the quietest light they are piercingly lovely.
Spanish Andalusians weren’t easy to capture in the way Brookover had imagined they would be—when he wasn’t shooting them galloping across ranch land, he and ranch owners had to find ways to distract the horses. Brookover had to deal with how the horses looked; but also, as he found out, how they moved. Eyes constantly blink, and horses’ ears move back and forth. Lighting conditions were a challenge.. A goat and an Andalusian housed in a 15th Century stable, constant companions, stayed that way for Brookover’s camera. Andalusion stallions don’t mix well with other stallions—too much fighting—so other animals often become Andalusians’ “roomates.”
“The horses don’t want to be alone or sleep alone, and we brought this one horse into the stable, and of course his goat buddy was there,” recalled Brookover. “Let’s get a shot of the stallion by himself,” he thought; but the task proved difficult. “The goat was not going to leave,” laughed Brookover. “So we put another stallion outside the stable window to get the stabled stallion’s attention, and we got some wonderful shots of the horse and goat looking out the window. I’d called the best image “Harold and Maude,” but I’m thinking of changing the title to “The Inseparables.”
“Big Gus,” a massive buffalo pumping along in the Yellowstone region’s deep, clinging snows, found itself a Brookover subject last winter. I have said this before, but Brookover’s platinum wildlife images stand apart in their delicate beauty, minimalist composition and spiritual sensibility. Big Gus never let Brookover’s presence disturb the moment.
“I was hiding behind a snowcoach, and this guy was walking down the road,” said Brookover. “He was BIG. I kind of snuck out and got a little close as he walked on by, and luckily he just kept walking.” www.brookovergallery.com