Topic: Hits 2012 (2 posts)

2015: The Year in Review

Since starting the blog a few years ago I have reviewed pictures made over the previous twelve months each December and pulled a few that I think represent the work done over the year. This is this year's review.

2015 was a somewhat different year for me in terms of my photography. A good chunk was taken up in preparation for showing a large body of work at 555 Gallery in September in Boston. Known as the "Monsters" pictures  in the show titled "Wild Thing", the work was photographs of masks, wig forms and mannequins from a now-closed store in Fitchburg, MA called Halloween Costume World. There was a companion catalog for the show.

The catalog has an introduction by Alison Nordstrom.

We also had business cards made, with credit to Moo Cards, a printer that permits cards with a different picture on each.

Kate McQuaid, in a review of the Wild Thing show, wrote this about the Monster's work for the Boston Globe:

Masking reality
Neal Rantoul’s photos of masks in “Wild Thing” at 555 Gallery feel like a goof, but an accomplished and clever one. “Exploring Dora,” for instance, brings us nose to nose with a Dora the Explorer mask, so that its hair becomes a black backdrop for her looming, pumpkin-like face — and suddenly, the benign character has menace.
“Jack” depicts a clown mask, in profile, and the rubbery head stretches disturbingly backward, elongating the face so that, even if you like clowns, you’ll be vexed. “Moment of Introspection” captures Frankenstein’s monster with a decaying nose and shoulders swaddled in bandages. A zombie fills the out-of-focus foreground as if running away from the green fellow, but Frankenstein’s monster doesn’t give chase. He gazes downward, thoughtful as Rodin’s “The Thinker.”

Here's "Moment of Introspection":

Monsters is on the site here.

Over the winter and early spring I was as caught up in the wild winter we had in Boston as anyone else and found myself heading out into it to make pictures, a landscape that was drastically altered and dramatic.

Before the big snow storms came The Baldwinville, MA pictures were made in early January:

The full series is on the site here.

Although South Woods Farm, from Martha's Vineyard, was begun in 2014 it wasn't until I shot one more time in January, 2015 that I could complete the series.

In March I drove to North Carolina to visit with friends at Penland then on to New Orleans where I stayed for two weeks. New Orleans is a fantastic place. I shot kudzu on the way down and on the way back. These are from Georgia:

By the time spring finally arrived I worked on a project to aerially photograph the salt marshes along the north shore.  

These are on my site here.

Although we were beginning to produce the Monsters show, in June I began a long term project photographing at the Medfield, MA State Hospital, which is open to the public, oddly enough. The hospital was for mental patients and is now closed, although access is allowed by the town, which now owns it.

Medfield is about 40 minutes from where I live. The pictures aren't on the gallery page of the site yet as the project is not complete. I hope to finish this one in 2016.

In August I photographed at the annual Sand Sculpture competition at the beach in Revere, north of Boston.

After delivering the work to 555 Gallery for the Wild Thing show in September I flew to Salt Lake City, Utah for a week to photograph the Great Salt Lake from the air. The lake houses potash evaporation pools for mining companies making fertilizer. They look like this:

This is a landscape like no other with bright colors and cracking pools of evaporating salt and minerals. They are on the site here

And finally, although hip replacement surgery slowed me down a little in November, I started photographing again close by in Cambridge in December at a new skate park.

That just about wraps the year up. As I write this we are a couple of days away from Christmas. Are there bodies of work not yet realized? Oh yes, absolutely. Many. Maybe during those long cold days of winter I will get to work on some and bring them from TIFF files to print form.

If you are a photographer too, I wonder if you've done this? Gone through the year's work to see what it looks like, how the past year's work fits into your overall career.  Can you see trends, proclivities, flash backs to earlier works, connections made from an earlier self to a present day self, trends or clues towards work to make in the future?

Me? As I get older I find myself working in more specific groups of pictures and not just going out to photograph in an unknowing and general way as much. When younger it was common for me to just pack up the gear and head out to see what I could find. While I loved that, it looks a little random to me now, although I still do it.  A couple of weeks ago I drove out to Brimfield, MA to see what I could find. I am working with a new camera, which is always difficult for me, and wanted to compare the older to the newer, using each to make pictures comparatively. 

I know some people hate these "best of the year" lists. I get that they seem arbitrary, that the construct of looking over your shoulder at the end of each calendar year is a contrivance. On the other hand, it is a good thing to look over what you've done to learn perhaps better when to continue doing something but also what not to do in the next twelve months. This becomes an opportunity to learn from what you've done and also what you haven't done.

Finally, let's be clear; I make no assumptions. I am thankful for the chance I've had to make my work this past twelve months and very much hope I can do more work in the next twelve. I hope this for you too. 

With wishes for wonderful holidays. 

Topics: Hits 2012,Best of

Permalink | Posted December 22, 2015

Hits 2012

Going out on a limb here. It seems like everyone makes a list of the "best of..." or that every year gets concluded with a "hits of....(whatever year)". Well, I thought I'd give it a try, picking what I think of as photographs I've made over the past year that are worthy of being seen, along with a brief description of the picture's context. 

A few ground rules: I have chosen photographs made by me that fit outside the context of portfolios or series already made. This means no "Dunes" pictures,  no "Martha's Vineyard Aerials", no "Rivolta, Italy", and no "Wheat", among others. In a sense, those are already published, printed and some will even be in exhibitions soon. I am posting here pictures that are "incidental" in that they fit outside the normal scheme of things for me. As photographers, and I think we all do this, we make photographs that we think are good but don't fit into existing categories, series, or bodies of work. That's what "Hits 2012" is for. I used to do this much more, mount a show that exhibited single pictures next to single pictures, simply chosen to be printed, matted and framed because they were good enough to stand on their own. Since I've become the "Series King" , as Jason Landry, owner of Panopticon Gallery calls me, I do this far too rarely. In an effort to rectify this, here goes:

This is St. Lucia in the Caribbean. I have always liked pictures of the dense jungle. I was there for ten days in January. (Nikon D3x, 24-70mm f2.8 Nikkor, tripod)


A friend gave me the best retirement gift possible. A trip to NYC to see Keith Jarrett in a solo piano concert at Carnegie Hall in January. Heaven. (Canon S95, HH. 1/8 of a second, f4.9)

I spent much of the winter in Yuma, Arizona. I made several series while there, including the one on the site called Salton Sea. This was made the same day a little farther along the eastern edge of the lake. (Nikon D3X. 14-24mm f2.8 Nikkor, HH)

This is a freight train heading east near Yuma , Arizona made from a plane in February. (Nikon D3X, 70-200 mm f2.8 Nikkor, HH with gyro stabilizer)

This is from the Cabela's store Hamburg, PA. Even though I finished the Cabela's series of pictures several years ago I can't pass up a store if I'm on the road. Nikon D800E, 70-300mm f4.5 Nikkor, tripod)

I have always liked "top of the world" photographs and "drive-up mountains". This was along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina in June. (Nikon D880E, 70-200mm f2.8 Nikkor, HH)

I've been photographing this barn and old rail road tanker car for several years now as it is near Pullman, WA where I make the wheat field pictures. (Nikon D800E, 14-24 f2.8 Nikkor, HH)

I don't know if this is cheating or not as it does have wheat in it but it also has trees and, as such, isn't in the main series of Wheat on the site. This was last August on the main road up to Spokane from Pullman, WA. Nikon D800E, 14-24mm f 2.8 Nikkor, tripod)

Many of you know the Peddock's Island photographs I made in 2005. This from last summer is from there as I have been going back to the island most summers since. Part of the plan for Peddock's is to open it up and extend its use as a camping destination for summer visitors. The island is part of the Boston Harbor Islands. Each summer crews have been going in to clear out decades worth of undergrowth. In 2011 they tore down many of the buildings I photographed in 2005. Each time I go back I discover areas I've never seen before.(Nikon D800E, 14-24mm f2.8 Nikkor, HH)

This is from Hadley, MA right next to a golf driving range. This picture epitomizes what seems like a lifetime of driving aimlessly, looking for things to photograph. l didn't have a plan or a strategy. I wasn't there to make a specific group of photographs at all. I just wandered in, looking around, saw these trees from the driving range entrance, parked, got out, made one picture, put the camera and tripod back in the car and drove away. Done. (NikonD800E, 70-200mm f2.8 Nikkor, tripod)

I was in Italy for a couple of weeks in September. The last day there a group of us took a hike up a mountain near Voldatavo, where we were staying. In typical Italian style drama, the sky opened up and the sunlight came streaming down. (Nikon D800E, 70-300 mm f4.5 Nikkor, HH)

This was taken along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina in June, while on a field trip with students as I was teaching a workshop at Penland School of Crafts nearby. (Nikon D800E, 70-200mm f2.8 Nikkor HH)

Many of you know me as a "Vineyarder" meaning I go to Martha's Vineyard a lot. My family's summer house is on the Vineyard. But this past fall I had a chance to be on Nantucket for ten days in late October just before Hurricane Sandy hit. The island that time of  year is awash in fall colors: dark maroon, rust, red and mustard (both Dijon and French's). I had a remarkable time. My friends Lauri and David live on the island and they took me around to see places I would not have otherwise seen, fed me local scallops and seduced me into loving an island we Vineyarders don't even like to acknowledge exists, let alone think of as being beautiful. Well, it is, Very. (Nikon D800E. 14-24mm f2.8 Nikkor, tripod)

These last two are also from Nantucket, taken in late October, and address the dilemma of what to do with a wide lens and the sun behind you either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Seems like a no brainer to me, although occasionally I will leave the shadow in (check out the camera shadow in Sconset). Nantucket has several interior regions that are wonderfully preserved. This is an old cranberry bog that is no longer used.(Nikon D800e, 14-24mm f2.8 Nikkor, HH)


So there you have it, fifteen "Hits" for 2012. On another day might I have chosen different pictures? Absolutely. Are these all Oscar worthy? Absolutely not. Did I have a good time picking them and putting this post together? Sure did. I bet you would too. Give it a try. Love photography.

HH... means hand held.

Reminder to all of you and to those that are new subscribers: you may see all these pictures full size by clicking on any one of them.

Topics: Hits 2012

Permalink | Posted December 25, 2012