Creating Art Together

A photograph taken by engineer and photographer Steve Soult

High-rises crowd waterfront property at the port of Hong Kong,
their brightly lit neon signs and darkened windows obscured by fog
in the encroaching dusk. On the water, though, the night comes to
life with tug boats, freighters and pleasure craft criss-crossing
the dark waters.
High-rises crowd waterfront property at the port of Hong Kong, their brightly lit neon signs and darkened windows obscured by fog in the encroaching dusk. On the water, though, the night comes to life with tug boats, freighters and pleasure craft criss-crossing the dark waters.

Although it’s half a world away, it’s a scene captured in a new Gallery Morgan Hill show by father-daughter photographers Katherine and Steve Soult.

The pair, who also live in Morgan Hill, traveled to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore in spring 2005 as part of Live Oak High School’s “Trip of a lifetime” cultural exchange. But when Katherine Soult, 17, wasn’t busy playing flute, she and her dad were out photographing the world of design around them.

The pair used buildings, ceremonial gates and fountains covered in greenery as some of their subject matter. Back in Morgan Hill, the results of their work – preserved in archival-quality color photos – are on display at Gallery Morgan Hill through Sept. 6. It is Katherine’s first show, while Steve has had several exhibits since the 1970s.

“I kind of wanted to feature Katherine’s work because she’s never really done anything like this,” said Steve Soult, an engineer and photographer who usually works in black and white film. “I wanted to kind of help her learn the techniques and how difficult it is to put on one of these shows.”

The Soults scanned the color negatives – Steve prefers film to digital – from their trip photos into their home computer, and retouched their colors in Adobe’s Photoshop software, said Katherine.

“My dad is actually color deficient,” said Katherine Soult. “He can’t see the difference between red and green, so when we were playing with the colors on the computer, I wanted to fix things because they looked different than they did in real life.”

Dad and daughter then printed their selected photos on a special Epson printer, designed to use archival-quality inks and papers made to last 200 to 300 years with proper care before fading. Considered a break-through in color photography, the technology was released in February.

“The paper base is made in Somerset, England, and then it’s sent to Japan where Epson coats it with their own proprietary coating,” said Steve Soult. “They sell it specifically for these inks and colors, but because it’s so new, we didn’t have a lot of information, so we were kind of out on the frontier trying to figure it out.”

The first set of prints came out horribly, the pair said, but time and effort produced better results that the Soults were soon able to mat and frame. But the experience of scanning in, adjusting and sending photos digitally wasn’t enough to woo Steve Soult into the digital era.

“With the chemical process now becoming obsolete with the introduction of digital photography, it may wind up being a lost art unless we pass it on,” said Steve Soult.

He is thinking, instead, of going back in time. He’d like to start photographing with a large-format view camera like the one Ansel Adams used when the pair met in the early 1970s.

“I want a view camera – a 4×8 or even an 8×10,” said Soult. “You have to think about each photograph, to compose it very carefully. It can take you an hour or so to set up the camera properly, and then each print is processed separately, but it’s just unbelievable the amount of detail that’s on there.”

At least Steve Soult may have one person to pass his knowledge on to already.

“I definitely hope to do more shows with my dad,” said Katherine Soult. “I think I want to do something along the lines of what he does … photography on the side.”

For more information on the Soult show, call Gallery Morgan Hill at (408) 776-7990 or visit them in the Downtown Mall, located at 17490 S. Monterey St. in Morgan Hill.

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