Featured Photographer – Chip Bulgin (2013)

Chip Bulgin

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Our featured photographer this month is Chip Bulgin. Chip stepped up to be our club president in 2009. He will be giving an all-day Lightroom/PhotoShop workshop in January and two Lightroom programs in February.

ACC: How long have you been into photography?

CB: The first concrete memory I have of taking pictures was when my aunt took me to the LaBrea tar pits when I was nine years old. I was given a Kodak Instamatic that shot 126 cartridge film.

CB: I still remember dropping off the film and picking up the prints the next day – saber-tooth tiger and mammoth bones!! After that though, I don’t really recall taking pictures much until high school. So, if we use high school as the starting point of getting kind of serious about photography, about 30 years.

ACC: What equipment do you shoot with?

CB: I shoot with a variety of cameras. My 35mm cameras are Nikons, an FA for film and a D70s and D800E for digital. I stick to Nikon lenses. My medium format cameras are Mamiyas, a 1000s and an AfD, though I haven’t used them much since digital became mainstream. It’s kind of sad, because my favorite lens of all time (120mm macro) is for those cameras. It works out to a short telephoto (75mm equivalent in 35mm format) and it just has a look to it that I can pick out in an instant. I also own a Crown Graphic and a Sinar f2, which are 4×5 cameras. Finally, I have a Seneca 5×7 field camera. I’m looking to shoot more with the 5×7 in 2014.

CB: I’ve got more money tied up in lighting equipment though. I own a decent amount of Dynalite gear along with various and assorted umbrellas, soft boxes, beauty dishes, grids, stands, etc.

ACC: What are your favorite subjects?

CB: Definitely people. I like working in the studio so still life, product photography, and the like are fun too. I kind of fell into a situation in 2012 where I acquired a lyra, which is a circular hoop about 3’ in diameter used in circus acts. Think Cirque du Soleil. Originally, I thought I’d get bored of it real fast, but it has turned out to have staying power, everyone I shoot on it does something different with it.

ACC: How long have you been in the Arundel Camera Club?

CB: I’m not sure, about 12 years I think. I’d have to go back to the old newsletters and see where my name started showing up. I attended as a regular member for a couple of years and then became the VP of competition when someone stepped down. I held that position until Howard Penn, our previous president, passed away suddenly in the fall of 2009. I took over as interim president until the club business meeting the following May, whereupon I took up the stewardship in an official capacity.

ACC: What photographers have inspired you?

CB: Timothy H. O’Sullivan and Alexander Gardner. Most of the more famous photographs from the Civil War that you might recall as being taken by Matthew Brady were actually made by them. O’Sullivan was also one of the first photographers to document the American West: Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, etc. His photographs proved to people that the paintings and drawings of those areas weren’t fabrications.

CB: Alfred Stieglitz. We basically have him to thank for photography being taken seriously as an art form in its own right. Edward Weston and Ansel Adams for their contributions to fine art photography. Edward Steichen, who is widely accepted as the first fashion photographer. Dorothy Lange and Margaret Bourke-White, two phenomenally talented photographers from the mid-20th century who documented the U.S. during the Great Depression.

CB: Moving into the late 20th century and beyond, Richard Avedon, Eddie Adams, and Robert Mapplethorpe are photographers who have inspired me who are no longer with us but whom I wish I could learn from. And if I were going to seek out someone to take a workshop from today, I’d want to learn from either Jay Maisel or Gregory Heisler. I’m sure I’m leaving out a few others, but that’s enough for now.

ACC: How would you describe yourself?

CB: Well grounded, down-to-earth, and hopefully a bit amusing. I love art in all its forms. I’m always looking for an opportunity to try/learn new things.

ACC: How would you describe your photography?

CB: Clean, polished, graphical. I’m always asking myself what is the subject about and what do I have to say about it. How can I get to its core? Photography is different than almost all other art forms in that you start with something, or some number of somethings, and then work to eliminate the parts that distract from what you’re trying to say.

ACC: Noteworthy accomplishments?

CB: I used to shoot commercially, advertising and whatnot, so I have a lot of tear sheets in my rear-view mirror. I’ve exhibited in numerous galleries over the years, though nothing serious. I’ve had images win ribbons/awards/prizes in local, regional, and international competitions.