Topic: Iceland (21 posts) Page 1 of 5

Landscape

What? When confronted with the amazing landscape of Iceland I am not going to point a camera at it?

Current thinking is that landscape is over in art photography. That it's all been done.Well, not by me it hasn't and your loss, I believe, if you don't care to look at landscape work. I do look at it and do make landscape photographs but it's not the only thing I care about. Tale a look at the gallery page of my site for examples. And yes, I see a great deal of quite bad landscape photography. Last week I drove through some truly remarkable country, up and over a couple of mountain passes on gravel roads. I'd be a fool not to photograph it.

Take your breath away places. Have to stop places. Game of Thrones kind of places.

Not for iPhones, this. Long lens, tripod, low iso, best aperture and extreme care.

As I begin to work the files now back at home,  go through the various days I was shooting, one thing prevails. Iceland is incredible. I know, it is touristy and overrun with photographers of all kinds,

serious and perhaps not so serious

My approach?  Always seek out a quieter place, someplace off the path traveled  by everyone else

maybe at the top of a mountain pass up in the clouds.

This is "reactive" work in that I am reacting to something in front of me that is spectacular and perhaps moving.  Grand landscapes have done that to people forever, I am sure.

Look at the British, American and Italian romantic landscape painters, for instance. Those lush and over-the-top utopian paintings just slay me. Garden of Eden and paradise on earth paintings that are masterful and consummate.

(Sorry: no attribution. Seen three years ago in Italy. Do not remember the artist.)

I am printing the Iceland landscape pictures now and will place them on the website soon. More to come from Iceland, land of my dreams.

Topics: Iceland,Digital,Color

Permalink | Posted August 15, 2017

Class Over

We have just finished a week of class in northern Iceland at the Baer Art Center in Hofsos. We had many field trips, refined our skills in Lightroom, went on a boat trip up the fjord, cooked wonderful meals of great fresh salmon and lamb, laughed and photographed all hours of the endless daylight into the nights.

Students finished with many RTP (Ready to Print files) to take back with them to print on their own or to hand over to a service bureau back in Reykjavik for I urged them to make prints, just as I urge you to.

The highlight of the week was when we piled onto an excursion boat to slide up the coast past Baer to the "Cape" where the cliff face opens up to reveal a near vertical rock wall of several hundred feet.  I'd photographed this in 2013 when I was here as a resident but this time the conditions were even better, calm seas with flat gray light.

Making pictures like these:

astounding, miraculous and somehow deeply moving, as though from a different planet.

A simply incredible rock wall several hundred feet tall.

This from the boat where we stayed at the Baer Art Center, very near the Cape. The studios are on the left.

I am on the road now for a few days, driving Iceland's Ring Road to the east with Mercedes, the workshop's most wonderful assistant (thank you, Mercedes!), and putting her on a plane later this morning to return home. I fly out later this week. I am planning on spending a few days along the South Coast. Last week had been mostly free from tourists. We'll see how I do as I enter back into Iceland's main stream. 

Topics: Iceland,Foreign,Digital,New Work

Permalink | Posted August 6, 2017

Inside Aerials

Sometimes writing comes easily. I've got something to say and this blog is my vehicle to say it in. I think this comes from my profession as a teacher as I can remember dreaming up some new course, or curriculum, or a lecture for a specific class where I believed I had something of value for my students and wanted to share it. That was usually pretty straightforward. But writing about my own work or others isn't always easy.

Other times, when preparing a blog to post, it comes hard. Right now, I have got something I am wrestling with conceptually and I am outside my comfort zone as an author to get it out. This is where I admire so much those that write for a living.

At any rate, I am going to take a stab at writing on the inside of the aerials I make, in an effort to address the motivation behind working this way and what the resulting photographs mean to me. This may be answering the question that wasn't asked but hang in there as there may be something coming that you might find useful. Hopefully, by sharing this with you, I can a) inspire you to try it or b) help you understand the pictures a little better or c) help you understand how one professional artist thinks and works.

I am gong to sprinkle various aerials in here to help make my point.

Near Pullman, Washington, 2014

When asked about my aerial pictures I often answer that I believe I am in a some-what unique position in that I go up in a plane to photograph simply to make art. I am reliant on what we fly over, of course, but I believe I am doing something a little different with the pictures I make. Most photographers that work aerially are on assignment, shooting real estate, surveying, etc. Not me. I just want to make pictures from above.

From the Mass Marshes series, spring  2015

I feel like I am late to the party. Let me explain. While I was awed and impressed as a young man with Paul Klee and Franz Kline, Kandinsky, Stella, Pollack, de Kooning, Barnett Newman and others I was also confused and disoriented by their large works; so impulsive, at times so angry and loud. I lined up with Mark Rothko early due to a one man show of his work at the Guggenheim  in New York in 1978 six or seven years after he died that seriously rocked my world. Rothko imposed a kind of orderliness to his work, the vehicle of the rectangle a constant while working for many years within its structure. I could relate to that, or find logic in his pursuit. I also loved what he was doing with color for I was in the language of black and white from my early days in the 60's on up until the early 2000's, while at the same time looking over my shoulder at the Joseph Albers studies, so important to our understanding of color.

But make pictures within the sensibility that is abstract expressionism with my own work in photography? Not bloody likely. I was too indoctrinated and entrenched in the kinds of photographs that worked off the palette of the real world. By that I mean I was anchored to being out in it and depicting in a manner consistent with the mediums' modernist precepts: clarity, fidelity, depth of field, tonality and yes, even print quality. All the modernist boxes were checked. I was fulfilled and enamored by what the medium could do in front of real stuff, subjects if you will.  Still am. In fact, I had no issues of photography not being enough, or too literal, or not expressive enough. Beginning to work aerially has changed some of that, of course, as there is some really wild form, content and color when photographing from the air. I think that's why my most recent aerial work doesn't depend as much on a real typography as it does with what nature and mankind has done to the land. I don't know if I can write this clearly but my interest is less in physical depth and more in markings, both actual and imposed upon the landscape.

Mass Marshes, 2015

Iceland, 2013

While the aerials embody much that is conventional photography (sharpness, color, etc.) they are separated from it too by scalessness, the denying of foreground to background readability and the sheer abstraction of things.

This is going to sound a little obvious perhaps but I believe I have a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the works of those seminal abstract expressionist painters through making aerial photographs. Bang! That's it, isn't it? So, how did they get there without the aid of hovering over the landscape like I have? I have no idea, but this clearly points to their brilliance and my lack of, I suppose.

NOLA shoot, March 19, 2015

So what does this way of working, photographing from the air, fulfill for me? I do believe I am using aerial photography to serve a different purpose than most. Quite simply, it is to make abstract art.

NOLA shoot, March 19, 2015

NOLA shoot, March 19, 2015

The contrast of knowing this is something 1000 feet below the plane spread out and displayed relatively accurately verses the final piece looking like it is marks on paper or canvas, not literally rendered and contained only within the artists' mind is almost to much to bear. 

That's why.

Near Moab, Utah 2010

                                                             • • •

Want to see prints of my aerial photographs? The best way to do that is to contact 555 Gallery and ask them. It would be helpful to tell them what bodies of work you'd like to see as not all the my aerial work is at the gallery. As a start, you might take a look at the gallery page of my site, as much of the aerial photographs are represented there. 

Topics: Aerials,Aerials in Louisiana,Utah,Iceland

Permalink | Posted September 24, 2015

The Right Picture at the Right Time

Perhaps because I am a senior photographic  person I find I have been thinking about the concept of what pictures we make at what periods in our lives. Looking at something I made in my mid 20's (Take Me Back) and comparing it to something I made recently (Spring and Fall) I can safely say that there was no way I could build a structure around a body of work back then like I do now. It was far simpler when I was young.

Photography was a lot simpler back then too. Besides all the technical changes photography has had, it is a medium much more aware of itself now than it was in the mid 70's. We know more about it and what it can and cannot do than we did then. It would have to be, after all that we've seen coming out of it in the past 40 years.

Of course, what perspective does someone have at 20 years old? Certainly little on himself/herself, but for most people none on much of anything. 

This then leads me to the core concept: making art that is age appropriate. By age appropriate I really mean something a little larger, that it is emotionally and intellectually age appropriate. Can this be boiled down to developmental changes? i.e. when we are younger we make work that is impulsive, reactive, intuitive, often simpler, emotional and self centered. When we are older we make work that is contemplative, intellectual, considered, knowledgeable, refined, careful. Simple enough, right? I mean that we should use what we've got and at my age I have a great deal I can use for I've been doing this so long. On the other hand, I can't go out and on an impulse make a huge body of work of a brand new idea, putting life and limb at risk and hang over the edge, so to speak. While I am physically constrained due to my age, I just can't because I don't think that way now.

As usual, I am thinking of a photograph I made that references my point. This below is at the Grand Coullee Dam in Washington.

I made this in the 80's. I am standing at the top of the dam with the tripod of the 8 x 10 view camera leaning up against the wall and the camera tilted over the wall and pointing straight down. My left foot is pushed up against the back tripod leg, keeping the camera from plummeting down the dam into the water and I have stretched myself tall as I can to see up at the ground glass to focus the image under the dark cloth before inserting the film holder to take the picture. This is high risk stuff. This is a photograph made a long time ago.Would I do this now? I think you know the answer.

Finally, how does one take a passion that is still as deep and resonate as it was when  younger and make art that is relevant and meaningful today? There is a catch, of course, and that is to not make the same pictures over and over again. Without moving on and relegating our done work to past work we fall into one of many traps, but the trap of repetition is to be avoided at all costs. Move on!

Also, as a rule it appears that later work may be as ambitious as earlier work but perhaps more thought through, in that the artist seeks to use the materials to his/her purpose as a device to make the point. In earlier years I would come across a place or an area and think to make a series of pictures from it that could compose a whole, be it a story or a thread or a concept. I would photograph the place, putting all my eggs into one basket, to focus whatever insight I had into a cohesive group of pictures to make a complete set in a short period of time. While I still do that occasionally, much of my work now is done over longer periods of time, with perhaps multiple shoots to get to the end. Slower because of being older? Yes, partly, but also slower  because I am aware of more things going on, more subtleties inherent in something I am photographing.

So, are you making pictures now that are symphonic? Large in scale, grand and extroverted? Or are you making more modest pieces, intimate and reflective, emotional and heartfelt? And does age play a role here?

I for one am still making the latter but am also involved in larger pieces too, assembled bodies of works that span time and often place. Why? Because I am thinking less and less of single pictures existing on their own. Maybe laying out and making books has taught me ways of connecting pictures to pictures more. At any rate, I am now involved in three larger series:

The Route 2 Trilogy:

a look at Massachusetts Route 2 as it heads from the suburbs west of Boston to the border with New York State in three parts.

Hofsos Trilogy:

a look at the small town of Hofsos, Iceland from inside and outside perspectives.

and Spring and Fall, a body of work of Martha's Vineyard that encompasses pictures made of the same area made on the ground and also made from the air:

Not to get morbid, but there is the phenomenon of classical composers final and unfinished bodies of work becoming their own requiems after they are gone: Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler and Faure' to name a few. You probably know others. 

Just saying.

The right picture at the right time.

Topics: black and white and color,Analog,Digital,Iceland

Permalink | Posted May 6, 2014

Finals: Finnur's Trip

I've spent the last several days final printing the work from Iceland called: Finnur's Trip.

If you come to the Open Studios next weekend (Open Studios) I would be happy to show you the portfolio.

I wrote previously about this two day off-road trip across part of Northern Iceland: Finnur's Trip 1 and Finnur's Trip 2.

Now the work is printed. Printing like this, making 23 prints in a few days, is part joy and part torture. Joy for the discovery of finding things in the pictures I hadn't noticed before, finding new images that were passed over in the first edit, working to  find the right color palette, the right tonalities, the right emphasis in the prints. Torture in finding A-edit photographs irreversibly flawed, of discovering that something I was excited about seeing did not fulfill my expectation, that I should have been more astute, aware, careful, intuitive, smart, visual, and so on. 

Then finally, when done printing, the realization that many many hours of work on a project is now finished, that I can put the preoccupation with this group of pictures to bed, take a breather perhaps, then move on to the next series in a list that seems  endless.

Finnur's Trip is a series of pictures, shot in a disconnected and disparate way, over a two day trip. They are not particularly tight and cohesive, yet retain a certain pace and rhythm as though made by someone who is very practiced, experienced and mature. Which is exactly what I am.

Imagine having the luxury to be so consumed with this one thing and having the time and means to do just that. I thank my lucky stars every day.

Topics: Iceland,2013

Permalink | Posted November 2, 2013