BETHANY, W.Va. – Robert Schramm, professor emeritus at West Liberty State College, is presenting a photography exhibit called, “Photography Retrospective,” in Renner Union Gallery on the Bethany College campus. The exhibit features his work with daguerreotypes, chrysotypes and uranotypes.
The exhibit runs now through Feb.19. An artist’s reception will be held on Feb. 10, from 7-9 p.m. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.
Schramm describes his work as "pictorial impressionism" and uses various photographic processes to complement each image. While various processes are used to create the final image, Schramm believes that the image is important and not the process that was used to create it.
Schramm has been involved with photography since the age of nine. From that time until his first year of college in 1953, he experimented with the medium, initially using black and white and later color slide film.
Years after graduating college, he began exploring black and white, silver-gelatin photography and a number of printmaking techniques.
In 1999, Schramm attended a workshop in New York in which he learned how to make daguerreotypes, which is the first practical photographic process, created in the 19th century.
Schramm returned to West Virginia and assembled and constructed the equipment necessary to make daguerreotypes. He then explored the use of the daguerreotype in producing fine art images.
The daguerreotype process is not only extremely difficult to master, but also expensive, time-consuming, and somewhat dangerous because of the toxic chemicals used in this process.
Schramm feels that the challenge of working with the daguerreotype brings him more in touch with what the first photographers experienced when creating an image.
Several years later, he began working with a photographer in England and was able to investigate two old and arcane photographic processes. Schramm was able to reinvent the old gold printing process called chrysotype and resurrect an obscure process know as the uranotype or uranium print.
A chrysotype yields prints containing a number of shades of blue, violet and red. The image is composed of minute particles of gold. While a uranotype produces images consisting of orange-brown tones.
Today, there are less than 30 people worldwide actively making daguerreotypes. Five individuals worldwide continue to make chrysotypes and only two individuals presently make uranotypes, one of which is Schramm.
He has authored articles on alternative-process printing for national magazines and contributed short articles to fine art photography textbooks. Schramm has won awards for his work in international and national competitions and has exhibited his works in both regional and local shows.
On the academic side, Schramm served as the head of the Department of Physics, Mathematics and Industrial Technology at West Liberty State College. He also served as a senior lecturer in art, volunteered as the college archivist and college staff photographer.
Schramm maintains a small studio devoted to fine art photography in West Liberty, W.Va., where he resides with his wife.