Photographic Fine Art by Jon W. Balke

In The Absence of Color

Through the lens of a camera

What we see with our eyes varies widely from that which is seen through the lens of a camera. Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than through the vast, unlimited array of subtle grayscale tones rendered by the traditional printmaking process of black and white photography where crafting a successful image is as much an artistic interpretation as it is a technical genesis.

Jon W. Balke

The random tones and textures of nature have intrigued Jon W. Balke for over forty-five years. It is the veritable mix of light, texture and form that underscore the beauty of the natural world and which provide the extraordinary images contained within his portfolio.

Balke travels the back roads of America to initially capture the essence of his subject with a large format view camera (4” x 5” film) which he then takes into his darkroom to personally produce his artistic interpretations. Using the time-honored photographic method of silver gelatin printmaking, Balke develops his own work to ensure the precise execution of the artist’s intent. This personal involvement throughout the printmaking process adds a most important degree of intrinsic value to each and every one e of his limited edition black and white photographs.

Admittedly a self-taught photographer, Balke has studied advanced darkroom techniques with such world-renown photographers as Ansel Adams and John Sexton as well as learning the essentials of compositional theory from Willard Clay. This ancillary insight not only serves to enhance his technical acuity and broaden his artistic senses, but also manifests itself in finished pieces that exhibit extraordinary technical quality and visual composition.

An alumnus of North Central College (Naperville, Illinois), Jon W. Balke has taught the history of photography for the Chicago Area Photographic School and black and white imagery for the Morton Arboretum as well as serving as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in Plainfield Community Consolidated School District #202 from which he retired in 2003. Balke now spends most of his time recreating the natural world through his distinctive black and white photographs.

Keith Evans
Watermark Gallery
Chicago, Illinois