Last spring Jackson photographer David Brookover unveiled what is sure to become one of his signature photographs, an iconic bromoil of a bison. Now, on the eve of Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival 2011, Brookover is introducing seven new platinum palladium prints. Traditionally, Brookover has favored landscapes and ancient architecture. For over a year he’s been shooting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s indigenous wildlife and Park habitats, redefining nature photography.
The downstairs of Brookover’s Jackson gallery has been transformed into a visitors’ sanctum. “It’s a meditative space,” Brookover says. “People come down and spend 30, 45 minutes. It’s calm; upstairs has more bustle, with the activity of Gaslight Alley and Town Square just outside. On the lower level it’s cool and quiet. When folks discover these images they want to remain with the photographs.”
Brookover’s wildlife images are crafted using traditional, ancient methods and materials. Japanese printing papers are made as they were in the 1st century. These fabrics enhance Brookover’s sophisticated, minimalist compositions, resulting in a thoroughly refreshed wildlife photography style.
Brookover talked about his bromoil process.
“It starts with silver gelatin; you strip away the silver and you’re left with a matrix of gelatin and paper. “You ‘go in’ with lithographic pure inks. Using a special Japanese brush I tap it, brush it, work it for about an hour. I let the image set overnight, throw it in water, wipe off excess ink, and then repeat that sequence…for four more days. And usually, after four days, I’m not satisfied! So we play with different exposures, work on the negative, and I think about how to apply ink once as I get further along. We started on the Buffalo bromoil a few days before Superbowl Sunday and finished it April 15—over two months to get it right. It’s a challenge for printers! But we got it.”
A bromoil image of the Great Wall of China’s has striking perspective, its solidity and details palpable. Brookover creates thick atmosphere using a brush and a density of inks to build up shadows and enhance texture. “When silver gelatin papers were developed, they were popular because it was so much easier than bromoil,” notes Brookover. “But I love the process; there’s a certain masculinity to it.”
A photograph of Yellowstone’s Firehole River is as mystic as a sacred shrine. In another shot, two young great horned owls nestle in a cottonwood’s gnarled, sheltering trunk. “Silent Storm” is a hauntingly beautiful image of a Yellowstone bison bearing up under heavy winter snows. The animal is enveloped in hot spring mists.
Fans of Grand Teton National Park’s Bears 399 and 610 will want to see Brookover’s series of photographs of those two bears and their cubs. Like pages from a private ancestral album, the platinums portray touching family moments. The series is intimate, playful, and timeless. On a wall nearby, a wolf appears to be walking across the surface of the Madison River’s glittering waters.
“These platinums and bromoils are a team effort,” says Brookover. “We love exploring historical processes. That’s where we’ve been, and that’s where we’re going.”
I recommend stopping in to see David Brookover’s new platinum and bromoil images during Fall Arts Festival. Palates & Palettes night, the gallery will raise funds to benefit the Teton Raptor Center; Raptor Center avian “residents” will be on hand. For more information, phone 307.732.3988. Brookover will launch his new website this week! Stay tuned! www.brookovergallery.com