It has been a long time now since literal, photographic reproduction has been any criterion for good painting. It has even been a long time since literal, photographic reproduction has been the sole criterion for a good photograph. In consideration of this, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED frequently turns artists and photographers loose to interpret a given sport as their own imaginations dictate.
Recently Photographer John Zimmerman's imagination dictated the series of baseball photographs beginning on page 26. "Solarization of color" is the term applied to what was done to John's film. It is not a unique developing process, but it is a delicate, tricky business, and photographs handled in this way appear therefore principally in photographic journals. They are the work, says the chief of our color lab, Herbert Orth, "of amateurs who have hours and hours to fool around in their little darkrooms." So far as we know, no national magazine has ever before undertaken the work of developing film in this manner to enhance news coverage. It took our photo laboratory about three days to produce Zimmerman's photographs, but those days were preceded by several months of off-and-on experimental work in the lab. Says Orth: "It was a process of taking color, re-exposing it and getting a negative image, fogging it with color filters and gelatins and then continuing the normal developing process." Zimmerman says simply, "I was trying to think of a new way to photograph baseball. Anybody who follows baseball day in and day out knows what a ballplayer looks like." In his continuing effort to give the reader a jolting, sharper awareness of the action, Zimmerman has put his cameras into the nets at hockey games, shot from behind the backboard in basketball and mounted cameras on the backs of skiers. In such instances he has been primarily ingenious, and we asked whether he had ever been involved in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation. "No," he answered, and then, "Well, yes. While I was shooting The Bold American (SI, Dec. 24, 1962) we were doing this skydiving man, and while we were following his plane up I noticed that our pilot had only half of his index finger. I asked him about it and he said, 'A guy was riding right where you're sitting when his chute opened and he was sucked out of the plane. I grabbed for him and got a shroud but out he went—chute, my finger and all.' So later I looked down and this white stuff was oozing around and it was my chute. Pretty soon the plane was full of white parachute, and I tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'Hey.' "
The plane landed promptly—and a good thing, too. That pilot had only one index finger to spare, and certainly we had only one John Zimmerman.