9th Ward, New Orleans

Edward P Richards, III

email: richards@lsu.edu

I was born in Baton Rouge, and while I have lived around the United States, I returned to Louisiana in 2002 to teach at LSU. I am a professor at the Louisiana State University Law Center, and my legal work includes administrative law, public health law and disaster management, and national security law. My primary research work is on climate change and its effect on the Mississippi Delta: Time and the River: Climate Change on the Louisiana Coast

Hurricane Katrina illustrated the transient nature of Southern Louisiana. I started photographing the damage done by the storm as soon as the areas was opened for general traffic. I have continued to revisit these areas and rephotograph key sites to show the progress of the recovery. In the process, I realized that most of Southern Louisiana will disappear over the next 100 years. This lead to a long term project to document the man-made infrastructure of Southern Louisiana - the communities, and especially the churches which define community life. While others have developed a good record of New Orleans, the swamps, and the fine plantation homes, the Cajun fishing and oil field communities have not been documented. I record the location of each photograph with GPS data so that the location can be identified when the area is later destroyed.

I enjoy the cultural life of Southern Louisiana and also photograph the festivals and the musicians. It is my hope that we can develop a plan to relocate the unique communities of Southern Louisiana to higher ground away from the coast to prevent their being destroyed by the rising ocean and accompanying hurricanes.

Photographic Technique

Most of my black and white work is done with a 4x5 view camera. The view camera movements allow me to control perspective and depth of field to better capture my vision of the final image. I used a Sinar F2 until summer 2009, when I switched to an Ebony 45SU. I use lenses ranging from an ultra-wide angle 47mm to a mild telephoto 300mm. If the subject is moving, or it is difficult to use a tripod, I use Linhof Technika IV press camera from the 1950s. It has a rangefinder and viewfinder that allows it to be focused and shot without a tripod.

I shoot Kodak Tmax black and white film. Until the fall of 2009, I used Tmax 100. I then switched to the new Tmax 400. This gives nearly as fine grain and sharpness as Tmax 100, with better shadow detail. It has less reciprocity failure in low light. This allows much shorter exposures in dark settings, reducing the chance of camera movement and making it easier to work when time is limited.

I process the film in a Jobo Expert Drum, rotated by an old Beseler developing tube roller. I use Xtol 1:2 and normal development for most negatives, but will pull or push development for extreme lighting situations. Once the negatives are dry, I scan them with a flatbed scanner. I use Photoshop for negative adjustment and I use Lightroom as a filing system and to produce my WWW pages.

The color work, and the black and white of fast moving subjects, is done digitally. As with the files from the scanned 4x5 negatives, the digital negatives are managed with Lightroom and processed in Photoshop. I also use DXO to control lens aberrations and high ISO performance.