Retired Engineer Discovers Beauty Behind The Lens



Nature photography is Ted Harman's avocation. "The first hundred years of my life I was an engineer," Harman said.

Love of photography complemented a unique career that included such diverse activities as development of the first 100-power zoom lens system used to gather military intelligence from space and underwater lighting for the first Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle.


Ted Harman at home behind the lens. His work will be part of the Payson Art League's fall show on Nov. 3, 4 and 5 in the Tonto Apache Activity Center.

He did not know when he was a boy of 11 processing black and white film with his uncle on a ping pong table in the basement with a red bulb hung in the ceiling for a safe light, that his hobby would serve him so well.

"I used bowls out of my mother's kitchen," Harman said. "The first time you see that image come up in the chemicals it is really miraculous."

He was the yearbook photographer in high school and recalls shooting three weddings with a 2.25 by 3.25 Bush Press camera during his senior year.

While serving as an operations sergeant in the Army Corps of Engineers in Korea in 1954 and 1955 he bought his first really good camera, a Nikon S3 and has used Nikon ever since.

Later, in civilian life, while working at Ford, he used high speed photos he took of a real crash to predict crash worthiness of vehicles.

Transitioning from 35 mm negatives and slides to digital was easy for the meticulous systems engineer.

He and three friends at Ford built computers from scratch when the first 8080 microprocessors came out in the early 1980s.

"I grew up with the development of the PC and Photoshop which has more capabilities than a darkroom," he said.


Ted Harman would like to have caught this trout he photographed at the fish hatchery near Tonto Village.

But he cautioned, "a good photograph has to start as a good photograph. You don't want to do any manipulation.

"The nice thing about photography is that it forces you to really look," he said. "A lot of people don't look for it, but there's beauty everywhere."

Nature is what he loves to look at while he is out hiking and fishing.

Reflections of landscapes on water especially draw him.

When he is not taking pictures, he is reproducing them as giclees (zhee-CLAY) for himself and others.

"Giclees allows the artist to sell their work more than once," he said.

They offer high resolution and continuous tone and pictures can be printed on canvas, watercolor paper, vinyl and other surfaces. Harman uses canvas.

It is time-intensive work.


This forest cove was about a mile up a side canyon off of Lake Powell. It was a small pond near the red wall, taken just before sunset as the sunlight reflected from the red wall.

Each giclee must be individually produced.

The sun must be in the right position in the sky, the film plane and artwork must be perfectly parallel and the axis of the camera is in the middle of the frame and the color must be balanced.

He must make certain there are no moire patterns -- wavy interference patterns that can happen when the artist's brush strokes on their painting line up counter to the texture in the canvas.

"I use a giant 52-inch diffuser to correct for this," Harman said.

"I may make three or four prints before I make the one I am satisfied with," Harman said.

Once he tried painting, but is convinced the skill for that comes from a different area of the brain.

Open heart surgery kept him from the Payson Art League's Fall Show last year, but this year Harman said he will be there to discuss his photography, answer questions about giclee and enjoy the show.


Name: Ted Harman

Medium: nature photography and giclee prints

First camera: probably an old Kodak box camera

Now: Nikon D2X

Award most proud of: Detroit Photo Guild Color Photographer of the Year 1972

Fave places to shoot: Woods Canyon, Lake Powell and the Four Corners area

Motto: There is always a way. Find it.

Fave quote: "Make it as simple as possible but not simpler." Albert Einstein

Points of contact: (928) 474-7004 or

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