New Book

I am very pleased announce that a new book of my photographs is just out (December 2017). Called Trees, Sand & Snow (TS&S) it builds a rational around the idea of  "connection" by linking three separate series of photographs into chapters. These are accompanied with short essays authored by me.

The book is photographs I made a year ago; two bodies of work from Martha's Vineyard and one from a skate park photographed during a snowstorm in Cambridge, MA where I live.




Sometimes the planets align. This is the first time in my career that I've connected specific series to each other to draw analogies and to make a larger whole. The process has been tremendously challenging and rewarding.

I arrived at the idea for the book a couple of weeks after I turned 70. This book is my first that leans heavily on my writing. Since starting the blog several years ago I've worked at become a better writer. Each chapter in TS&S starts with a short essay about the premise of the work and my belief that photographs can connect in both obvious as well as subtle and profound ways.  My  hope being that this would promote readers looking at other works of mine to seek similar connections and then perhaps lead to a deeper understanding of photographic essays in general. 

TS&S is 61 pages, 9.5 x 8 inches, in soft cover and elegantly designed by Andrea Star Greitzer. 

We have printed the new book in limited numbers and I will fulfill orders and ship books myself. Please email me directly if you'd like one ( I will sign each book. They are $36 each, plus shipping.

Topics: Books,Digital,Northeast

Permalink | Posted December 13, 2017

New Camera

I have a new camera. If you've read the blog before you know it isn't very often that I discuss equipment. Mostly it seems not so significant to me what kind of camera is used. But there are shifts occurring once again in the industry and this new camera, a Nikon D850, is one of the new tools in digital photography that is moving us ahead.

Edgartown, MA

Although it is difficult to show how good images are online, this 300% crop shows little noise and is quite detailed:

My previous camera, a Nikon D810, had been my primary picture maker for several years. A very good camera, it made files that I could count on:  for quality, for color, for tonality, dynamic range and for sharpness, even at quite big sizes. It wasn't perfect but it never failed me and got the job done, really all I could ask for in a camera in which to make my art.

Since I've only had the new camera a week and made just a few prints, I can't speak to its inherent goodness yet. But it feels right and its MP size is significantly larger, which should allow bigger prints at higher fidelity. Odd that we are so very dependent on a tool to make our pictures, but that's photography.  In my analog days, I was dependent on three tools to make my pictures. Early on the Rollei SL66 was front and center in the 70's, then the Superwide Hasselblad. Then I was wedded to the Toyo Field 8 x 10 for 25 years, connected at the hip to a large, cumbersome and very heavy camera and the three lenses I used ( and the tripod to mount it on!). Now I can get virtually as high a quality image with a camera I can hold in my hand and sling over my shoulder. Dreams do come true sometimes.

Current thought seems to be that large chip DSLR  days are numbered and I can believe that. The D850 is too large and heavy. I also use a full chip mirrorless Sony camera (A7r MK ll) and find it very nice to travel with. It is not as refined as the Nikons but nevertheless capable of wonderful files.

Simply enough, the bar is now very high in terms of the equipment we can use. We are at a high level of maturity in digital imaging and the devices are increasingly sophisticated and impressive in the quality of the results. Is the hype we are barraged with everytime a new camera is announced a true guide of its significance? No, but this one, the Nikon, and the new Sony A7r MK lll are genuine steps forward, I believe.

I have already learned, for instance, that in order to capture everything at the highest of quality you must make sure this new Nikon is held steady. Bring your A game to this tool for it requires it. Marginal quality lenses will not cut it either.

So, my apologies for coming down to earth to speak about equipment in this blog. I assume most of the photographs I'll make for a while will be from this new camera. I am looking forward to sharing new work made from the D850 Nikon with you.

Stay tuned.

BTW: I'll have prints of these images and others at the Allston Open Studios coming up in December.  Hope to see you there.

Topics: Camera,Northeast,Digital,Color,New Work

Permalink | Posted November 29, 2017


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