Buying Prints, Books and Gift Vouchers FAQs
Credit and Debit card payments are now handled by PayPal, the well known internet payment company. They provide a secure online payment service to millions of businesses worldwide, and their customers. When you click the button ‘Go To Payments’ you will be transferred to the PayPal secure payment system where you enter your card details. All payment processing pages are hosted by PayPal. You can be confident in the safety of your personal data since they offer the highest level of compliance under the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. In addition, PayPal apply the most stringent levels of fraud screening, to make sure your details remain secure throughout the payment process. You do not need to have an account with PayPal to make a payment.
Payment is taken in UK pounds sterling, no matter in which country the card is registered. Your credit card company or bank will automatically convert payment into your local currency. To increase the security of internet transactions Visa and Mastercard have introduced 3D-Secure (similar to Chip and PIN). You may be asked by your card issuer for further authentication, please be patient as it may take a moment or two longer for your transaction to proceed. Please make sure you type in the correct security information for the card you are using.
Yes, if you do not wish to pay using the PayPal secure web payment system then you can pay over the telephone: +44 1663 733771. We have a Chip and Pin card terminal to take payment directly. If you have any problems with the web payment system, either PayPal or your card online verification system, then you can usually make payment over the telephone even when the online systems are blocked.
Alternatively, send a UK cheque for the full amount shown on the web payment page, made out to Dave Butcher Photography and send to Briarwood, Tunstead Milton, Whaley Bridge, High Peak, Derbyshire, SK23 7ER, UK. Cheque payments take a few days to clear so please bear this in mind when ordering for a special occasion. We can also accept payments in Euros by bank transfer into our Euro account. Send an email with your order details to start the process, we can supply full details of our IBAN bank codes, etc. to help you pay this way.
There is no postage and packing cost for any products sold through this web site shipped to locations in the UK. All UK orders for photographs are shipped using Royal Mail or a courier such as UPS. 30 x 24cm prints are shipped using Royal Mail. There is no postal charge for gift vouchers.
Yes, we ship to most countries worldwide as long as the order comes through our official order processing system and full payment has been made. You are responsible for any import and other fees your country may impose. The parcel will be marked as a commercial shipment with the amount that you paid. Please don’t ask us to ship your order as a gift; this is illegal. All photographs to destinations outside the UK use the Air Mail service for orders up to £120. This has no guarantee for delivery time but usually takes a few days in the EU and up to 2 weeks for places further afield. If you would like delivery guaranteed a courier can be arranged at extra cost. Orders with a value greater than £120 are usually shipped with a courier such as UPS.
There is no postage and packing cost for orders totalling £120 or more for any products sold through this web site.
There is a charge of £10 for orders of less than £120 shipped to locations outside the UK. There is no postal charge for gift vouchers shipped to anywhere in the world.
Original Prints: hand-printed by Dave Butcher, are mounted onto conservation card with permanent adhesive and have an off-white window mount over the image. They are packed inside a clear sleeve. The sleeved print is then taped between sheets of rigid MDF and wrapped for addressing and shipping.
Resin Coated Large prints: 80 x 80cm, 100 x 70cm, 100 x 50cm, and special order sizes, are supplied unmounted and will usually be loosely rolled up, shipped inside a rigid cardboard postal tube to protect against damage during transit. Larger orders may be supplied in clear protective sleeves packed flat between sheets of MDF rigid board, depending on size.
Resin Coated 30 x 24cm prints: are supplied flat in protective sleeves in protective thick cardboard envelopes that are sold specifically for shipping books and prints through postal systems. Larger orders may be shipped packed between sheets of rigid MDF. We ship using Royal Mail Second Class post (usually delivered within 2 days) in the UK and Airmail for everywhere else (a few days to 2 weeks delivery depending on location).
Yes but these are available by special order for personal collection only. Collection can be arranged from our studio in Tunstead Milton in Derbyshire or from a show that we are exhibiting at around the UK. The risk of broken glass prevents us from supplying framed photographs by mail order. Our framed prints are very reasonably priced and it may be worth considering a trip to the studio in the beautiful Peak District, or to an art fair closer to your home, rather than paying for framing locally: The frames are polished (shiny) black narrow-width aluminium, we do our own framing so that we can keep our prices as low as possible and we use frames chosen to complement our photographs.
Books are shipped in protective thick cardboard envelopes that are sold specifically for shipping books through postal systems. We ship using Royal Mail Second Class post (usually delivered within 2 days) in the UK and Airmail for everywhere else (a few days to 2 weeks delivery depending on location). Books are always in stock and we try and despatch them within a few days of receiving an order.
Yes, all photographs are shot on silver gelatin film using traditional cameras, currently Mamiya 7 cameras that give 7 x 6cm negatives with an image area 4.5 times bigger than 35mm. All photographs are printed in the darkroom using a traditional chemical process, silver gelatin papers and are signed by Dave Butcher.
Original Prints are hand printed by Dave Butcher using traditional darkroom materials and methods. These use Ilford Multigrade Fibre Based paper (FB silver gelatin paper) and are processed archivally. That means they are expected to last hundreds of years as the image is made of silver and the paper is traditional baryta base, both known to be exceptionally stable on ageing. The range of tones and contrast in the print is also the greatest possible using any technology currently available today, either traditional or digital.
Resin Coated Prints are printed using a different sort of darkroom printing paper. The print is made of silver gelatin but the paper is resin coated rather than fibre based. You still receive a traditional darkroom print but not quite the same high quality possible using the FB paper described above for Original Prints. This is stable for several decades and has a slightly reduced range of tones but still greater than the range produced by digital inkjet printers. This is used for the largest sizes which are too big to be printed by Dave Butcher (images greater than 60 x 50cm), as well as the 30 x 24cm prints. These are either hand printed by Dave Butcher (termed Sample Prints) or are made from a digital file from a very high resolution scan of the black and white film negative (called Silver Prints). The digital file is manipulated by Dave Butcher to have a similar look to one of his darkroom prints and is then sent to the Ilford Lab who print the image onto a resin coated darkroom paper.
Yes, Limited Edition Original Prints are available for very few images. They are printed in small numbers to make them exclusive. The print runs are between 1 and 25 prints. They are priced by print run, not by the dimensions of the print as elsewhere. They are signed, titled and individually numbered and are unmounted to allow you the full choice of options with the presentation. Ask for details.
Dave Butcher Photography has an extensive product range. It is not possible to keep every image in stock in every size. It is the intention to despatch any photograph within 3 weeks of receiving an order but may take longer. This might also be extended during periods of unusually high workload or due to photographic trips since all, except some 30 x 24cm, photographs are hand printed in the darkroom exclusively by Dave Butcher. Prints that are in stock will usually be despatched within a few days of receiving an order. In the rare event of a problem with availability of a product, we will contact you.
Books are always in stock and are usually despatched within 2 to 5 days.
Gift Vouchers are despatched within a few days of receiving an order and can be used for any purchase from Dave Butcher Photography.
Please let us know if you are ordering at short notice for specific dates, such as birthdays or anniversaries, we will always try and meet these although at busy periods, such as Christmas, and while we are away on extended photo trips (once or twice a year for up to 3 weeks at a time) this may not always be possible.
There are 3 main formats of prints available, as well as the seldom used Letterbox format.
Panoramic: available to fit frame sizes of 100 x 50 cm, 70 x 50 cm, 60 x 40 cm, 40 x 30 cm and 30 x 24 cm
Regular: available to fit frame sizes of 100 x 70 cm, 70 x 50 cm, 60 x 50 cm, 40 x 30 cm and 30 x 24 cm
Square: available to fit frame sizes of 80 x 80 cm, 70 x 70 cm, 50 x 50 cm, 30 x 30 cm and 30 x 24 cm
Letterbox: available to fit frame sizes of 95 x 33 cm and 60 x 25 cm only. Very few images in this format.
Some of the larger sizes may not be available for certain images. It depends on the negative size and degree of enlargement needed.
Yes. The matts can very easily be finished to the closest inch size. If you are in the USA, for example, this will allow you to buy a ready made frame to fit the picture from your local high street frame suppliers. Just make a comment in the box marked additional information on the checkout page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your order number and request.
The equivalent inch sizes:
30 x 30 cm = 12 x 12 inches
40 x 30 cm = 16 x 12 inches
50 x 50 cm = 20 x 20 inches
60 x 40 cm = 24 x 16 inches
60 x 50 cm = 24 x 20 inches
70 x 50 cm = 28 x 22 inches (could be increased to 30 x 24 inches)
70 x 70 cm = 28 x 28 inches (could be increased to 30 x 30 inches)
Other options are available, give us the frame size you wish to use and we will take it from there.
Conservation grade mount board is used exclusively to ensure that print life is not compromised by the choice of mount materials. Window mounts are off-white and usually lightly textured card.
The largest photograph that I can print in my darkroom is roughly 60 x 50 cm (24 x 20 inches), the image size is usually around 56 x 46cm after allowing for holding the paper flat in the darkroom. These are available as the 70 x 50cm and 70 x 70cm prints. This is the size of the image and window matt. They are also standard off-the-shelf frame sizes. Throughout most of this site, the sizes quoted for Original Prints refer to the size including the window matt and is the frame size needed for the print as supplied.
100 x 50 cm, image size 100 x 50 cm
100 x 70 cm, image size 100 x 70 cm
80 x 80 cm, image size 80 x 80 cm
80 x 60 cm vertical only, image size usually 56 x 46 cm
70 x 70 cm, image size usually 46 x 46 cm
70 x 50 cm, image size usually 56 x 36 cm
60 x 50 cm, image size usually 46 x 36cm
60 x 40 cm, image size usually 46 x 26 cm
50 x 50 cm, image size usually 36 x 36 cm
50 x 40 cm, image size usually 38 x 28 cm
40 x 40 cm, image size usually 28 x 28 cm
40 x 30 cm, image size usually 30 x 20 cm
30 x 30 cm, image size usually 20 x 20 cm
30 x 24 cm, image size usually 15 x 15 cm
30 x 24 cm, image size usually 21 x 15 cm
30 x 24 cm, image size usually 21 x 10.5 cm
Obviously, not every image is available in every size!
No, our photographs are NOT mass produced. All prints purchased through this website are printed in limited numbers in the darkroom. A normal print run is between 2 and 4 prints at a time. Unless otherwise stated they are open edition prints, NOT limited editions. However, Dave Butcher produces lots of new work, many negatives are only ever printed once so in this case just 3 or 4 photographs are all that will be produced.
With reasonable care, proper storage and display (preferably behind glass) these traditional darkroom prints will last for many generations. Traditional photographic materials, such as the films and papers that I use, are based on silver-gelatin and this technology first produced images in the 1850’s. These images are still in good condition. This gives me a lot of confidence in saying that my prints will last a lifetime, and probably several lifetimes!
Baryta fibre based (FB) photographic printing papers have been available for well over 100 years and prints from these earliest photographic times are still in excellent condition. The print life of fibre based prints, such as those that I sell through this web site, is therefore KNOWN to be well over 100 years.
Resin coated papers were introduced in the late 1960’s and considerable improvements have been made since then. The print life is now KNOWN to be at least 50 years and will, in time, be proved to be considerably more.
For information, new computer printing materials (inkjet, giclee, etc) have an estimated print life based on a few weeks of experiments (between 4 and 6 weeks) using very controlled laboratory conditions (temperature and humidity, etc.). The light intensity used is at least 100 times greater than normal levels and some of the testing is performed using special filters to remove light known to be harmful to the materials (UV filters, etc) even though this is known to be present in normal light. There is also no agreed standard for what constitutes a normal day of daylight so again some companies take a low value to claim a better print life for their products than those from their competitors. The materials have only been available for a comparatively short period of a few years so there is little real life data available. However, as a scientist who used to run such trials for Ilford Photo, I find it difficult to accept that extrapolating from 4 weeks of data to 150 years print life is realistic! It is my belief that digital prints cannot be compared with darkroom prints with any certainty with respect to print stability and longevity. Consequently, Dave Butcher Photography does not use inkjet computer printing for the fine art prints sold through this web site and elsewhere.
The easiest way is to book through this web site and pay online by debit or credit card using Paypal. Your payment will be converted into UK pounds from whatever currency your card is set up for. Alternatively, we can accept payments in Euros by bank transfer into our Euro account. We can supply full details of our IBAN codes, etc. to help you pay this way. For private course bookings I will send you a payment link for the agreed amount which then takes you through our usual shopping cart and PayPal payment systems. You can also telephone and book direct by speaking to either Dave or Jan. We take credit card payments using our Chip and Pin card terminal. You can also pay using UK cheques. You will need to allow an extra week or so for paying in this way. In addition, we take bookings using cash or card at shows around the UK and from personal callers to our studio in Derbyshire. There is no shipping charge associated with any course booking. Full course details are posted, or emailed to you, within a few days of receiving payment for a course booking.
You don’t need any expertise! Our landscape courses are designed to be flexible and meet the needs of everyone whether they are complete beginner or a professional cameraman working for the BBC (actual example!).
The darkroom workshops are primarily for beginners and people who have some skills but want to make better quality prints (they are not for experts). This includes people who have never taken a black and white film but would like to experience darkroom printing; in this case you will be using some of Dave’s 35mm negatives.
Our landscape photography courses have a maximum of 3 people but, unlike most courses with other companies, there are 2 tutors for every course. That gives you a lot of attention.
The darkroom printing workshops have a maximum of 2 people for both group (we set the dates) and personal workshops (dates agreed with the client). There are 6 enlargers to choose from so this allows quite a bit of space per individual and a lot of attention from Ilford Master Darkroom Printer Dave Butcher. Formats to print from include 35mm, 120 roll film and 5 x 4 inch sheets.
An information sheet is supplied once a booking and payment has been received. This details the equipment that you should bring. We can supply some equipment if you are struggling to find something; give us a call to talk through any doubts you may have.
You can use any 35mm or 120 film camera since we mainly spend the day covering the more artistic side of seeing landscapes in black and white. If you need help with the technical side we cover that too. As far as the film camera to use, I would suggest you bring the one you will be using in the future for landscapes. People on courses have used simple pocket-sized 35mm compact cameras up to medium format film cameras. Using sheet film cameras on our group courses is usually impractical because of the time it takes to set up each shot. We can supply 35mm film cameras to anyone who would like to try black and white photography using film. There is no charge for this. We are helping you take pictures with the camera that you want to use, it doesn’t matter what type it is.
Yes, you can. We can supply simple 35mm film cameras or a small compact digital camera. It is better if you use the camera that you would do normally (if you have one).
Our 35mm cameras are easy to use and in good condition: Nikon FM and FM2.
Yes, you can. Dave will let you use his 35mm negatives (taken in the 1980’s but still in excellent condition, as you would expect). If you can manage to bring along some negatives of your own you will get more from the day as the subjects will mean more to you. If you manage to expose a film but not to process it then let me know and I will see what I can do to help to make sure you have some of your own negatives to print from.
Yes, we do lots of courses for individuals as well as for couples and small groups. With 1 or 2 people it is usually with Dave Butcher as the only tutor. For larger groups we usually provide 2 tutors, Dave and Jan Butcher. The largest group we take is 3. We don’t offer tuition for groups larger than this as the individual attention is then much reduced from what we expect to provide.
We run courses in the Peak District National Park. Contact us directly to discuss your needs. Private darkroom courses for individuals are a good way to guarantee the highest level of guidance and tuition from Dave Butcher, which translates into faster progress with your black and white printing. The maximum number is still 2 people unless you let me know me that you have 3 people who are very patient with each other and don’t mind a bit less attention as long as you are having a fun, productive day or two in the darkroom together.
I would like to experience black and white photography from taking the picture to processing the film and making prints, can you help?
Yes, we can easily do this and need 2 days to cover the whole process. Day 1 would be taking photographs and processing the films. Day 2 would be making prints in the darkroom. All materials and cameras can be provided within the price.
No, we do not provide accommodation any more. We do provide accommodation information and hot-links to accommodation providers through this web site to help you find somewhere. Our courses are mainly on weekdays which makes it easier to find somewhere. In each location there will be campsites, bed and breakfasts up to comfortable hotels to choose from.
Yes, once you arrive in your own vehicle or by public transport, we will do all of the driving. A group of up to 3 people will be in our our very comfortable Nissan Pathfinder 4 x 4 vehicle. It has lots of space for equipment as well as 5 people. We can also pick you up from the local stations: Whaley Bridge is the closest and is on the Manchester to Buxton line. Chinley station is on the Sheffield to Manchester line and just 4 miles away. Macclesfield station is on the London to Manchester line and is 10 miles away.
General Advice FAQs
I have another website, DarkroomDave.com where there are lots of technical details, FAQ’s, videos and illustrated articles. All available free of charge! If you need more information on anything have a look here first.
I have always taken colour photographs but would like to try black and white, can you give some advice to get me started?
To learn what’s important for black and white film photography you need to come on one of my landscape photography courses! For successful black and white you need to pay more attention to what you put in the picture and where the light is. Less is usually better. Shapes, textures, tones, lines to lead into the picture and lots of other things all make for strong images. If you can make good black and white images then your colour work will improve because of the extra structure that you will put into your shots.
General technique FAQs
The short answer is yes. I have seen fogging from airport hand luggage x-ray machines after just 3 or 4 passes (this was using UK and USA not 3rd world airports!). I always use FP4 medium speed film (125 ISO) so it happens on this, not just high speed films as airport staff would have you believe. I used to work for Ilford Photo and ran the world-wide customer service area for product problems and saw lots of examples of airport x-ray fogging from around the world. The fogging I have seen on my film I know not to be an isolated incidence.
There are 3 ways around this that I use:
- Have film delivered to my address at the destination I am travelling to (hotel or friends, etc.) by a supplier in that country.
- Have film processed locally when on a trip. This can be done but is difficult as there are not many good b&w labs left. There is an excellent lab in New York – Chelsea Photographic. They often turn jobs around the same day. I have used them several times in NYC. Make sure you let them know to expect you and how many films they have to process.
- Ask for a hand search of film at airport hand luggage x-ray areas. You have a legal right to a hand search on film in the USA unless they are on red alert for terrorism. I have never been refused a hand search in the USA and I have had dozens of them at Newark, JFK, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Vancouver travelling into the USA. I have also had hand searches of my film at Amsterdam, Auckland, Berlin, Christchurch, Geneva, Hong Kong, Oslo, Rome, Salzburg, Vienna and Sydney airports. I either carry my film in clear plastic bags (I use Ortlieb map cases as they are large, very strong, have a velcro closure to secure the films inside and are clear with a carry chord) or Domke lead lined flexible cases. I have regularly managed to have a hand search at Heathrow and recently at Gatwick but Manchester airport have a policy of no hand searches of film. Consequently, we usually travel to Heathrow or Gatwick airports for the flight leaving the UK by car or train, I don’t use UK connecting flights. Hand searches in the UK must be pre-arranged well in advance of your departure date. They seldom do hand searches when you turn up and ask for one.
Mostly I bring exposed films back here for processing. In the UK for processing large batches of film I use Ilford Lab Direct. Up to 40 rolls, I process myself.
Photographing buildings, particularly inside, is very complicated and, for commercial work requires you to obtain permission from property owners, fill in risk assessments and have public liability insurance for several million pounds (pretty standard in pro photo insurance policies).
There are other reasons too:
- Police and security stopping you as a suspected terrorist
- Private security stopping you because you are on private property
- Health and safety in busy places and/or when using a tripod.
Private property will often allow individuals to take a few photos hand held as long as you don’t make a nuisance of yourself, say you are an amateur with no interest in selling the photos and you are not using a tripod. If you are professional they usually expect you to fill in some paperwork and pay for a permit. A recent one for the area around New City Hall in London were very helpful and sent me the forms and rules to follow, albeit quite lengthy, for example.
Police were using section 44 of the anti-terrorism act to stop and search photographers until the European Courts told them to stop in 2010 because it was illegal. It has reduced but not stopped them doing this but they must believe that you are a serious terrorist threat now or face a complaint and compensation claim from the harrassed photographer.
If you are commissioned to do building photography then you must include the cost of the permits in the quotation for the job and find out all the property owners to contact for costs to avoid being stung at a later date, or worse, the job having to be delayed or called off. If you are doing speculative photography to go in a picture library then it’s up to the person at each property whether they make a charge.
This is probably the most useful and powerful technique to learn for darkroom printing. It is the technique used by Ilford printers for pretty much all hand prints. Once mastered it will considerably reduce the amount of dodging and burning adjustments that you will need to do. It involves using a low contrast exposure and a high contrast exposure instead of the usual single exposure. This is the technique that I usually teach on darkroom workshops. It can be used for all types of negatives except very underexposed negatives (thin negatives) which are usually best printed with a single high contrast exposure. For full details and some video demonstrations visit my DarkroomDave.com website.
The Dave Butcher Approach to Photography FAQs
I photograph what presents itself to me and what appeals to me.
- First I see the overall picture
- Then I decide if it needs foreground interest or not.
- If it does need foreground interest I look around for rocks, plants, lead-ins from the lower part of the shot to the main area
- Decide on camera height and lens.
- Choose which filter to use, if any.
- Check for and remove distractions from the image, especially at the edges, by moving myself not physically changing the landscape! A tripod is really helpful for this.
- Check camera settings to make sure the image will match my expectations; use a small aperture like f22 if I want everything in focus, use a fast shutter speed of at least 1/100 sec to freeze water droplets from a waterfall in mid-air.
I also take photographs that people ask me to or to fill gaps in my library after receiving requests.
My favourite local area is the Goyt Valley. It’s just a couple of miles from home and it’s full of photogenic locations.
The Zermatt area in Switzerland is my favourite place outside the UK. There are so many high snowy mountains and the village is very picturesque. Parts of Colorado in the USA, such as the Red Rock Lake area near Boulder and Rocky Mountain National Park, are also very special to me.
My fine art prints are all made in the darkroom using traditional methods so the opportunity for manipulation is far less than that for digital. Mainly I adjust the tones to match what I saw when I took the photograph, bearing in mind that camera film is very sensitive to blue light compared to the human eye. This means that blue skies will be overexposed on the film leading to lighter skies in the print than the eye sees when the image was taken. A yellow or orange filter will help at the taking stage but if needed I also adjust for this by giving skies more exposure in the darkroom. That is about the limit of what I do in the darkroom.
I use Photoshop for all the images on my website and that are used for image licensing. After I have scanned a negative I edit it using Photoshop so that it closely matches what I would produce in the darkroom. I don’t like to over-print. There are far too many bells and whistles in Photoshop which tempt people to over-edit images.
I need to use a film that has a wide brightness range, medium speed, fine grain and is tolerant of difficult conditions. Ilford FP4 Plus is far from being a new film (introduced in May 1968, updated to FP4 Plus in 1990) but it meets all of these needs. I use a medium speed film (FP4 is 125 ISO) for finer grain than something like HP5 Plus or Delta 400. I would have finer grain with Ilford Pan F Plus but the longer shutter speeds needed from the slow speed would more often require the use of the B setting for exposures over 4 seconds and I prefer to avoid this. The latent image (recording the scene on the film after you press the shutter button) is not as stable with Pan F compared to FP4 so on long trips and at busy times I can leave processing my films and not worry about the latent image fading and losing detail. Here is a bit more history. The film format I use is 120 roll film. This format was introduced by Kodak in 1901 for its Brownie No. 2 cameras and survives today as the only medium format film, other than the double length 220 which Ilford deleted from its product range in 2003.
Harman Photo, the parent company of the Ilford Photo black and white brands, is the only company with a full range of black and white products still committed to traditional black and white. Kodak stated in the early 1990’s it was a digital company and has been regularly deleting products since then and now has just a few films left and no papers. Fuji has never had a complete black and white range, for example they have never had a variable contrast paper and their C41-processed Neopan 400CN film was in fact Ilford XP2 in different packaging since they didn’t have the technology for their own version of such a film. Agfa went out of business many years ago and the Eastern European brands are mostly old technology with poor consistency between batches of films and papers; I need to be able to rely on my films and papers having very similar performance between batches. Oh, and I used to work for Ilford Photo for 21 years until 2002 so I have seen the products from both sides. The chemical products are what I worked on while working at Ilford; 6 years as a research scientist developing new chemical products and 15 years as the Technical Manager responsible for specifying the performance and testing of all new Ilford chemical products and ensuring the worldwide compliance to chemical regulations
I use yellow, orange and red filters to add contrast and enhance skies. I occasionally use yellow-green and green if there are lots of green trees and shrubs in the shot and not much sky. I also use infrared filters (Heliopan 715, similar to a Hoya R72) with Ilford SFX film. The orange is my favourite since a lot of shots have trees in and this does not darken them as much as a red but still darkens blue skies quite a bit more than a yellow.
I always use Mamiya 7 cameras which produce 7 x 6 cm negatives on 120 roll film. In the past I used Mamiya 6 cameras for 13 years for 6 x 6 cm negatives, a Mamiya 645 Super camera for 7 years before this (6 x 4.5 cm negatives). I also used 35mm Nikon cameras for 15 years before switching to medium format Mamiya cameras in 1986.
I changed from Mamiya 645 to the Mamiya 6, then Mamiya 7, because of the difficulty in handling the brick-shaped 645 out in the hills. The Mamiya 7 is very portable, easy to use and the lenses are top quality. If you look at ebay they hold their value well too. For close-up work there can be a problem with parallax since you look through a viewing window NOT through the lens. For macro and close-up work the 645 is better, for travel, landscape and city shots the Mamiya 7 can’t be beaten for what I do. You would have trouble using graduated filters though since you don’t look through the lens so you would need to guess how far to push the filter down in front of the lens. The 7-II is better than the mark 1 if you want to use the multi-exposure lever. Otherwise the mark 1 is the same except for a few cosmetic changes (strap lugs, cable release socket moved, lens change lever different).
I always wanted to be a photographer, and had a talent for it, but it is only since 2004 that I have done it full-time and I am now making my living from it. I have been selling my photographs at a low level since the mid-1980’s while working for Ilford. Unfortunately, in my youth local photographers did not need an assistant and when I went to the local careers officer in Hatfield and asked for help with a career as a photographer she laughed and told me to get rid of all ideas of such glamorous jobs but she could get me a job with an engineering company making planes! Not quite the same so I declined, tried and failed to find work as a photographer myself, so became a chemist (I also found chemistry interesting).
Most of my working career was as a chemist and I have a PhD from the University of Cambridge University and am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Luckily after my PhD I managed to get a job with Ilford who make black and white films and papers. They taught me a lot more about photography and my own work improved as a result, particularly my print quality after I ran the photographic printing department for several years. I left Ilford in 2002 after 21 years because of a back injury. My first book was published a couple of years after this in 2005 and prompted me to take the plunge to be a professional photographer. I now sell fine art original photographs, run landscape photography and darkroom printing courses (I am also an Ilford Master Printer). I also give lectures, write and sell books and license my work to companies for posters, greetings cards, stationery products, advertising, etc.
It’s the combination of photography with being in the great outdoors that is so appealing to me. There is no other job like it and I know I’m very lucky to travel around the world making a living from the photographs that I take, although there is always pressure to get shots that sell.
The inspiration for my style of work comes from Ansel Adams (an American landscape photographer), Walter Poucher (an English landscape photographer) and several of my colleagues who used to work at Ilford. The inspiration for taking landscapes comes from living in, or close to, the rural landscape all of my life.
I have mostly lived in the countryside so landscapes are everywhere. I feel somewhat uneasy in cities and they do not have the same appeal as the great outdoors. However, I sell lots of city shots and travel through them on my photography trips so I include them in my portfolio because of this. In cities I look for 2 sorts of shots – a record shot that is easily recognised and quirky angles / small parts of buildings that are interesting pictorially. I feel at home in hills and mountains and live in the Derbyshire hills of the English Peak District National Park, about 25 miles SE of Manchester. I started skiing as a way to reach the summits of the mountains in Scotland in winter not realising that the snow conditions were seldom good enough. This led to ski mountaineering in the European Alps as well as downhill skiing in resorts across Europe and the USA. Everywhere I go I take a camera and this has been the case for the last thirty years so I have an extensive picture library.
I used to take both colour transparency (slide) films and black and white negative films and carried separate cameras for each so that I could do both at the same time. I take good shots in both but usually found the black and white photographs more satisfying. Colour usually wins at sunset and sunrise, unless it’s misty!, but black and white can be taken at any time of day and in most conditions.
Creativity: Colour eventually became a distraction, I just wanted to take black and white. It is more creative, for me at least. These days I even avoid toning my prints with sepia or selenium as I prefer the pure black and white image. It forces the viewer to look at the scene as I want to present it, with all the graphical elements, shapes, textures, tones, patterns, etc. rather than for the colours present which can often divert your eye from the overall picture.
Control and quality: I take and process my own films as well as making the prints in the darkroom using far better quality print materials than are currently available for digital black and white inkjet prints.
Image life: My negatives are on silver gelatin films that are known to last many decades, probably hundreds of years. My darkroom prints are on the finest quality silver gelatin fibre based papers that are known to have a life of over 150 years as similar materials were being used in the mid to late 1800’s.
Career and Employment FAQs
No. The main selling point of Dave Butcher Photography is that Dave Butcher takes all of the black and white photographs and makes all the darkroom prints himself. The admin. side is run by my wife Jan.
I would like to work in the photo industry after finishing my University course, do you have any advice?
All I would say is that you’ll make more money if you work for yourself rather than being employed by someone but the experience from working with someone could move you forward professionally quicker than doing it on your own. It’s more satisfying succeeding without the help of others too. If you set up on your own be prepared to take work that you would prefer not to do as it brings money in for the short term – you can specialise later once you can afford to turn away work you don’t need. Lastly, if you have a talent for photography do not let anyone put you off making it your career. There are lots of opportunities for those with talent, follow your dream.