I am pleased to tell my readers that I will be showing Recent Work at the Garner Center for Photographic Art at New England School of Photography's (NESOP) new location in Waltham, MA from January 8- February 9, 2018.

I thank the school for inviting me.

The opening reception will be Tuesday, January 16  from 6-7:30 pm and I will give a gallery talk Friday, January 19 at 1:30. The public is invited to both.

What am I showing? Those that read this blog and have seen my work know that I am a prolific artist, working daily. This show gives me a chance to highlight new photographs that haven't been shown, or shown only to a limited audience. For instance, last summer I taught in Iceland and had a week after class was over to drive the Ring Road and make landscape photographs:

and in the fall of 2015 I made aerial photographs of Great Salt Lake outside of Salt Lake City in Utah:

and, in the summer of 2014 I paddled my kayak down the Connecticut River in western Mass for several hours. I came across a small stream feeding into the river. I put in there and walked up the dry stream bed for a couple of miles with a camera in hand:

Have you ever wondered what your work would look like printed large? Well, here's your chance. Although I'll only show 12 or so prints, they will be quite large: framed 46 x 34 inches. There are some unique circumstances to making big prints. I will address these issues in my gallery talk 1/19.

NESOP is located  274 Moody Street, Waltham. Call: 617-437-1868  for more information.

See you there!

Permalink | Posted November 20, 2017

Aerial Art

I am often asked by the pilots I hire when I rent a plane to go up and shoot aerials," What are you after?" I usually answer that I just want to make good pictures.

Chappaquiddick, MA 2016

As it turns out, this is unusual. Most photographers go up to shoot something specific. Meaning a building, a place, a development, a house, a river, a city, etc. While I am limited by how much ground we can cover in an hour or so, I just care about what it looks like as a picture, not so much about what it is.

Baldwin's Beach, Martha's Vineyard, MA 2016

The place I've photographed the most in the past 5 years or so is Martha's Vineyard. Because its an island I like that it has definite edges, a perimeter. I also like that it is a place I know better than anyplace else, that it is beautiful and that because I live there sometimes, I can nail the day and the time of day. When traveling this isn't so easy. The pilot I fly with out of the grass strip in Katama knows exactly what I am after so our communication is better and this helps the results too.

Now drones are on people's minds and I have seen some excellent footage in mostly videos made with drones. For the most part drones aren't producing the large megapixel content I need to make large prints at high quality. And drones can't fly high enough or far away enough to be good for my use. Plus, drones aren't good at covering a lot of territory. If you want to photograph over another part of where you are, you have to land it, pack it up, drive it over there and set it up again. A plane is over there very quickly.

Potash Evaporation Pools, Great Salt Lake, Utah 2015

Although there are definitely challenges to shooting aerially I like how it forces me to have it very together in a very brief but intensive time in the air. No spacing out or taking a break allowed. Much of the photographs I've made over my career, particularly in the 25 years or so I worked in 8 x 10, were photographs made slowly, with contemplation and long consideration: right time, right light, right technique, the best camera settings and so on. Working aerially is flying along at about 100 mph,  a shutter fast enough to get a sharp picture and the subject moving by so fast it often isn't until I see it on my display that I see all of what was in the frame. How often does a landscape photographer shoot 450 frames in an hour? Answer: when making aerials.

I like the dichotomy between the understanding that we are looking at something large and real from 1000 feet above it and the abstraction that makes it almost unrecognizable.

Squibnocket, Chilmark, MA 2016

There is a trap in making aerial photographs and it is a large one. I learned this early on. It is all too easy to make pictures from above that are universally beautiful. Doesn't matter what the content is. Everything is fantastic from the air. This can make you sloppy and indiscriminate. And believing that you are very very good. Not so. Sitting in a seat with good gear pointing out the window of a high winged plane and pointing down at whatever is sliding past you does not necessarily make for good photographs. The same old rules apply, such as framing, being selective, focus and working with lights and darks, on and on.

Want to know more about how to work aerially? I've written a couple of how to's   for the site Luminous Landscape. Or you can write to me:

Cape Cod, MA 2016

Permalink | Posted November 6, 2017

Save the Date Open Studio

Save the dates December 9 and 10 for Allston Open Studios, open both days from 12-6 pm.

I will showcase new work from Iceland

Martha's Vineyard

Oak Bluffs Half Mast, © 2017 Neal Rantoul

Prints from the Shrink Wrapped series made last winter

and, we hope, copies of my new book "Trees, Sand & Snow"

See you the weekend of December 9 &10! This is the open studios weekend for Allston and a great chance to see all kinds of work and to purchase for the holidays too. The whole building is open. 

119 Braintree Street, suite 320. Allston, MA. Plenty of free parking.

Permalink | Posted October 31, 2017

Panopticon Gallery 2006

We're going back in this post to 2006 to a one-person show I had at Panopticon Gallery when it was in Waltham, MA. It was still owned by Tony Decaneas then and Panopticon Imaging, which was the lab and printing component of Tony's business, was run by the wonderful Paul Sneyd with a lab in the basement.

Oakesdale Cemetery on the left and Billings, Montana on the right

I got it in my head that for this show I was going to exhibit "series works" so over the course of the previous summer and fall made whole series into fairly small inkjet prints, then matted and framed everything. My book, "American Series" had been published the year before and I was working to draw attention to it.

The gallery was quite large so this ended up being a big show.

Mystic, Connecticut on the right

By 2006 I was working in color, by shooting transparencies and color negatives, then scanning and making inkjet prints. But this show was all black and white.

The Mutter Museum photographs. I had just finished this body of work the year before.

I practically killed myself making the prints and doing all the framing. In fact, Shannon from Panopticon Imaging can tell the story of how I delivered the work bent over and almost unable to walk with a bad back. I remember I spent most of the opening on a stool as standing was very painful.

Summer Hill in Atlanta, Georgia on the left and Wheat (the large one in 8 x 10 and the smaller aerials in 2 1/4).

On the right, Old Trail Town, Cody, Wyoming.

The space was right on Moody Street in downtown Waltham and had a classic storefront window.

I remember arriving at the opening reception to find that Barbara and Tom Dunn had already arrived. Babs has just recently died. She was in her 90s. But these two were longtime family friends of my parents' generation.  Babs was a wonderful artist and had been hugely influential to me when I was starting out. They lived in Lincoln MA which was not far from the gallery but by 2006 Tom was very frail and didn't go out much. This was a big effort to get to my opening and it brought me to tears to see them there.

It was difficult to get people to come to Waltham to see the work. I'd like to think this was a better show than the venue that displayed it, not because of the quality of the gallery but because of where it was. The opening reception attracted modest numbers. I believe Tony felt the same way. He got out soon thereafter and moved his gallery into the current space at Commonwealth Hotel in Kenmore Square in Boston. 

Was it worth it? Absolutely. Most often it is better to show work than not to. I have a longstanding belief that making photographs is a process of communication. This means that the end result is having the work be seen.  The show that year at Panopticon Gallery did just that, although not to as many as I would have liked. Another benefit to showing this work was that I could put it behind me and move on to new projects.That year I started photographing with a digital camera, making projects and series works for the first time that were all digital. That was a sea change in the way that I make my art and is the way I work now. In some sense the Panopticon show was a way to put the methodology of analog behind me and to allow new ways of working and seeing to be front and center.

Topics: Panopticon

Permalink | Posted October 30, 2017

Mt Tamalpais

I am in California for a few days this week visiting my sister, who lives in Berkeley.

We are headed out to have a picnic lunch today at Mt Tamalpais, which you can drive up. From the top you can see all of San Francisco Bay, down to Marin, a good deal of Richmond and down towards Oakland, etc. It is a glorious place with a trail the runs right around its circumference. 

I have photographed quite a bit at Mt Tam over the years, including the original "Mountain Work" series made in the late 80's:

and in more recent years too:

including driving up it one morning in 2015 in fog:

that slowly burned off as I walked the trail:

Mt Tamalpais. One of my favorite places.

Topics: West,Northwest,Vintage,Black and White,Color,Digital

Permalink | Posted October 25, 2017