Since Then

This blog has been a steady fixture in my life and on this site since November 2012. Thanks to you my readers and photography itself I have never run out of things to write about. In the earlier years of the blog when I was more active in the photography community in the New England area, I wrote about other photographers, shows, books, and events more than I do now.

Age has a way of forcing retirement even if that is not the chosen path and I am no exception. Older and wiser? Maybe a little. While still strong and vibrant there can be no doubt there is less output from this artist than in earlier days. As I write this there is snow on the ground and freezing rain falling from the sky. January was always a time to process and print for me. For 25 years or so this meant long hours in the darkroom, now it means long hours in front of a computer screen. I have concurrent projects I am final printing now, from Utah made in November


and from wildfire damage in Paradise, California in early January. 

My daughter Maru and I are working together to promote, market and sell my work. We have formed an LLC called: Insight Arts Management (IAM). Although I am her first client she will represent others as well. There is a new site   ( that will launch in the next few months. We also plan an invitational evening event that will showcase my work and others in March. Maru has made sales already. I am very excited at this new venture.

Ahead, as I view the state of my affairs in this place and time? I can report that the state of Neal Rantoul is excellent. I currently have infrared work shot in the early 80's hanging at the Boston Society of Architects on Congress Street through June. 

The reception, open to the public, is January 30 from 6-8 pm. I have work from the Shrink Wrapped series

 that has just been accepted into the upcoming exhibition at the RI Center for the Arts that will open February 21, juried by Aline Smithson (thank you, Aline). And will be exhibiting in a one-person show at the Harvard Ed Portal in Allston this coming spring.

I am of an age where being unaware of one's own impending demise would be irresponsible and, as you know, I travel often to make my work. Travel will continue and has been particularly worthwhile this past year. High on the list is another trip to the Palouse, the extensive wheat growing country in eastern Washington that I have been photographing since 1996. For an artist who makes work in series that can need as brief as an hour the Wheat series is truly exceptional, for it is ongoing and begun in 1996! This time I hope for a trip there in mid to late June. There can be great worth to the same content re-approached and the Palouse is a remarkable constant for me, continuing to produce work that is fresh, innovative and qualitative. Palouse crops are first planted in April so June is a "first harvest" period as well as triggering a second planting. Late June is wheat fields at its most glorious and lush.

Since then, meaning since I started writing the blog in 2012, you and I have been on many journeys, both physical and emotional, intellectual and metaphysical. I don't think of blogs as having much staying power, meaning readership after they are written and read.  But they are all still there, contained in the "Archive" heading on the Blog page. If you subscribe and follow along, great, I appreciate that. But there are more posts that, no doubt, you haven't read, back in the archive. I encourage you to take a look.

As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments and criticisms: here

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted January 21, 2019

New Show

Boston Up

I took some photographs to the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) this week for a show that will be up through the winter. I am showing with longtime friend Peter Vanderwarker. The BSA is planning an opening reception for January 30th.

The show features work I made in 70mm black and white infrared film in the early eighties of downtown Boston. It is called Boston Up.

If you don't know of the BSA they offer a wide variety of programming, classes, lectures, and exhibitions, all centered around the built environment. They are on Congress Street in Boston.

The Boston Society of Architects/AIA is committed to professional development for our members, advocacy on behalf of great design, and sharing an appreciation for the built environment with the public at large.
Established in 1867, the BSA today consists of nearly 4,500 members and produces content for a diverse array of programs and publications, including ABX and ArchitectureBoston.
A chapter of the American Institute of Architects, it is a nonprofit, professional-service organization.
The BSA is located at BSA Space. BSA Space features more than 5,000 square feet of gallery space for creative explorations of the potential of design to inspire, create community and transform the world we inhabit. BSA Space is also home to the BSA Foundation (formerly the Boston Foundation for Architecture).

For more information and open hours please go to: Boston Society of Architecture

Topics: Northeast,Analog,Digital,infrared

Permalink | Posted January 12, 2019

Going to Paradise Day 4

This was my last day in Paradise, Day 4. Although cut short by rain in the afternoon, some of what I was able to get to in the morning was grim.

Much of this, of course, had a purpose, was purchased at some point, used by human hands for some reason, stored away for use another day, now rubble, debris in a disaster zone.

Three deer came by while I was photographing, foraging and perhaps looking for a handout.

Just before the rain started I ended up in a higher-end neighborhood, with gated driveways, security systems and views out over the canyon, homes perched on the edge.

These are places I wouldn't have been allowed close to before the fire, now, in a perverse form of democracy, wide open, gates unlocked, nothing for robbers to steal.

That's it for the photographing part, the acquiring of photographs, just really the first phase of a project. Next when home I will edit and edit and edit, an endless process of working on the imagery to refine the work to an essence, a core group of pictures that say best, that speak to my intention. For this group I will write the story as well with the idea that perhaps this work deserves attention as a published piece. Not my field or area of expertise. We will see.

With a little research you can delve into the politics behind this particular fire, the worst in Caifornia's recorded history.

The fire caused at least 86 civilian fatalities, with 3 persons still missing, injured 12 civilians, two prison inmate firefighters, and three other firefighters. It covered an area of 153,336 acres, and destroyed 18,804 structures, with most of the damage occurring within the first four hours. As of November 19, insured damage was estimated to be $7.5–10 billion.

Source: Wikipedia

Was this fire preventable? How did it start and who is liable? Could the town and state have prepared better, plotted a safer and more effective evacuation plan? Will Paradise rebuild?

Thanks for coming along. I appreciate your being a subscriber to the blog.

Topics: Color,Digital,West

Permalink | Posted January 6, 2019

Going to Paradise-Day 3 Beauty

Overwhelmed. I think that was it. Photographing in Paradise for several days got to me. Scene of the infamous Camp Fire. So much destruction. 

At any rate, I've been staying in Red Bluff, about an hour away. Why? Because forget finding anything in Chico, the closest town, because so many displaced Paradise residents are living there now. The commute each am and pm is long, two lane, straight and flat. I am in Central Valley, the huge agricultural region inland from the coast in California. On the morning of Day 3 I began photographing along the way to Paradise (putting off the drive up the ridge to town?). Row after row of nut trees, almond and walnut, some fruit orchards, all bare, in January.

 Rural farmland mostly. Open and expansive, a river valley in large scale with distant mountains on either side. And very beautiful.

Why stray from the stated mission to photograph the effects of the Camp Fire in Paradise? For a reprieve, a break, to come back to beauty, some serenity and sense that all is right in the world. For things are very wrong in Paradise and I don't know that it can ever be made right again.

Padlocks on a fence overlooking the canyon in Paradise.

Wooden crosses on the side of the road into Paradise to commemorate the 88 killed in the fire.

Mailboxes at the entrance to a retirement community leveled by the fire.

What is quite striking is how quiet this all is. Get away from the main street, into residential neighborhoods and walk around to find no one there. They are gone, their homes ash and dust, for there is nothing for home owners to return to. These neighborhoods are ghost towns, oddly serene, unvisited, no moms carting kids off to school, no sprinklers cycling on to water the grass, no sound of lawn mowers on Saturday mornings, no dogs barking, no joggers, no deliveries, no UPS truck bringing Amazon orders. Nothing, no life and no sound. Odd and dead and gone.

Last day today, Day 4. Back to Paradise as a wrap up, to take one more look, to see if I missed anything.

Topics: Color,Digital,West

Permalink | Posted January 5, 2019

Going to Paradise-Day 2

Day 2 was big, as I photographed the town and area around it in the morning then in the afternoon flew out of Chico to make photographs from the air.

This one above on the ridge leading up to Paradise, at the tail end of the destruction. The nature of firestorms is that homes are engulfed when hit by embers thrown by high winds. This means some buildings are spared.

In this one you can see trees singed and then some that are still green. This is looking down into the canyon below Paradise.

A Mustang and a Porsche, sitting in the garage,  left behind as the homeowners fled.

Often the chimney is what remains. This home had an expansive view of the canyon below, perched on the edge of the ridge.

Downtown Paradise:

Today? Back to Paradise, to photograph more. At this stage, I am just trying to finish with no regrets about what I didn't get. I have the option to fly again today but will pass as I am confident I got what I needed from above. The on-the-ground work is harder as it tends to look just a confused mass of debris. Will work today to bring some coherence to these pictures. 

Thanks for coming along. Your response welcome: Neal's email

Topics: West

Permalink | Posted January 4, 2019