Dr Clarence Rainwater was my friend. He was my best friend. He died recently not long after his 88th birthday. Over a few months whenever I phoned him I could see his decline. He would repeat himself and at times was confused and toward the end found difficulty in relating a voice on the phone with someone he knew well. I spoke with him 4 times while he was in hospital. It seemed to me he was getting better, but then the next time I tried to ring I discovered that he had died.
I first met Clarence in the late 1980's in Cairns. He was interested in drawing, I was running a sketch club. I soon discovered he was a wonderful artist with the camera. I loved his individuality, his love of books, his love of fascinating things like crystals and old microscopes and cameras. I built his darkroom for him at Boden Street at the end of his garage. He gave me a Graphlex camera in return for it. I also bought a Speed Graphic from him. We generally spent Tuesday nights together talking science and philosophy and art. In the country it is rare to find someone really interesting to interact with.
Clarence was born in 1920 in America's south. When he was 12 he worked at the Atlanta Airport. He said that in those days planes were rare and schedules even more so. They had to be there just in case an airplane came. Their first notice of one was the sound in the sky. There was a lot of time without aircraft. During the quiet times there was a German who worked there who would draw the curtains on the airport waiting room and get out his enlarger. About this time Clarence made a camera from a cigar box. It was to be a life time passion to take photos.
During the war Clarence was studying and involved with early efforts at spectroscopy in metallurgy. He became a physicist. He taught at a Florida university and then during the 1960's he became Dean of Physics and Astronomy in San Francisco. Along with his wife, Sandy he experimented with Solarization and discovered ways to enhance the technique. He and Sandy wrote the (then) definitive book on the subject published in 1964.
Clarence taught me all I know about photochemistry, how to make developers from base chemicals, how to solarize, how to get the most from a camera. How to think in a productive way about taking photos. Clarence was one of the most important teachers I ever had and though he is now gone he lives forever in my heart. He was a good friend.
These photographs of Clarence I shot on 4x5 inch sheet film on a Speed Graphic (c1930) with a Carl Ziess lens and compur shutter. The portrait is lightly solarized. The outdoor scene is shot on a beach photography excursion near Cairns. I really like the photograph of Sam (model) with Clarence behind. We both took a lot of photographs that day. Clarence loved photographing the nude. He liked this picture.