Topic: Black and White (76 posts) Page 1 of 16

CARDS

I confess. I wrote this post a while ago and it has sat in my "to finish" list. Here it is.

I am going to write about cards: meaning photo cards I created that combined a note or text with pictures, sometimes my own and sometimes not.

About 2000, inkjet printing was evolving as were ways of sharing imagery. My skills were also improving as I moved through generations and iterations of printers. Various companies were also making do-it-yourself substrates and one of those was photo cards. I used one made by Kodak. I started with thank you notes and/or Xmas cards. These were a picture printed on a folding card with a note scribbled in my illegible handwriting. This then progressed to found photographs, family snapshots combined with some text, usually fiction, that made a story, or a commentary on the image.

This was a snapshot I'd found at a flea market. And here is the text I wrote to go    with it:

As time went on I'd make a card, perhaps sending it but also keeping a copy for myself. I still have most of them.

This one, of my dad, making a movie of some bizarre hunt in the backyard:

An Easter Egg hunt? I have no idea. And the text I wrote to go with it:

That's just two of them. There are many more.  Sometimes we forget the skills we have, the abilities that we have worked so hard and long to obtain are usable for far more than just making our prints for exhibition. I made cards at the time  as I was just learning how to make photographs and combine them with  type. It was early days and my abilities as a graphic designer are still wanting. These two above are just because I could. I encourage you to stretch out, to increase your range and breadth. It is far too easy to think of yourself in just one category as a visually creative person. 


Topics: Black and White,Commentary

Permalink | Posted January 19, 2020

Sockanosset

Socka what? Sockanosset Boys Training School in Cranston RI. Now long gone and turned into some stores, a restaurant, and offices.

Evidently the school was built in the mid-1800s to house and train boys that were posing some difficulties for the state. Right up the street from a prison.

I would guess I made these about 2005. I have a friend who was living nearby and she mentioned that I might want to take a look at where the school was as the vines and brush were being cleared as prep for developing the site.


I remember I shot them once and blew it. Work this way and you can't have a frame that is out of focus. I just reprinted it at 45 x 34 inches as earlier ones sold long ago.

A note about size: while striking smaller, this image really needs to be large to see the subtleties in the variation of these three buildings. The grid is made from several rolls of 120mm film that I scanned then composited together to look like one roll of twelve exposures.

Topics: New England,Black and White,Analog

Permalink | Posted December 27, 2019

Valley Trees

I returned last week from my second trip to Northern California to photograph the effects of the Camp Fire in Paradise.

As I start to make prints from the shoot I realize I was seeking to connect with the place in a slightly different manner than before. Partly documentation and partly an artist's response, the work reads more personal and selective.

An example is these, called Paradise Valley Trees:

This career artist doesn't always know why he's doing things. That sounds bizarre I know, but it is true. I discover things from the pictures I make. Yes, I made some conscious decisions here: convert the camera to 1:1, make the files in post into black and whites. So, I was working towards higher specificity in these pictures.

But there needs to be chance, discovery, unpredictability, accident, surprise, intuition in our work. It isn't all intellect and control.

These trees, serving as symbols for so much more, standing guard, doomed to be cut down and heading for the chipper, scarred and charred, killed by wind and fire on November 8, 2018.

Prints are 12 x 12 inches. I suggest seeing them in person: Neal's email

Topics: Black and White,Digital,West,New Work

Permalink | Posted November 25, 2019

Wheat Four 2019

This will finish the series I've been writing on the photographs I made in June of the wheat fields of the Palouse in Eastern Washington.

I am pleased to report that the portfolio is almost complete and that it just needs a few more reprints and a final edit to be ready to present.

If you would like to see the prints you can come to my studio to see them. Email me at: nrantoul@comcast.net

This is a small thing, but big if you are a printer and make portfolios. My prints in this series are on Red River San Gabriel Baryta paper in 17 x 25 inches. Archival Methods makes portfolio boxes, among other things. They now make a 17 x 25-inch drop-front box, seen here and also a 17 x 25-inch folio case. This is good news for those of us that like to use this slightly larger paper over the more standard 17 x 22-inch size. As a benefit, the DSLR full-frame fits this size paper better as well.

The last few days in Washington followed the already familiar pattern of getting up, driving, photographing, driving, photographing, on and on.

The latter part of Day 9 I started working in Pullman and this carried over to the next morning, which was my last:

These connect to a project I did in 2009 called Mallchitecture (here).

2011 Yuma Palms Mall, AZ

Rhode Island, 2009

I finished the trip with a few hours photographing the greenhouses at the University of Washington campus in Pullman:

That concludes this four-part series. I have been photographing in the area for 25 years, with trips every year or two. Am I finished? Hard to say. I feel like maybe I am, but in a year or two the Palouse will pull at me, just as it has many times  before. It is a peculiar place, charming and very beautiful. The area has purity and honesty to it in a world so lacking in integrity and so perverse as to be defeating at times. 

If you go, you could take a workshop, as there are several. Personally, I would hate that, being carted along to "choice spots" by a guide. I like the freedom to choose my places, my own time of day and time of year. 

Topics: West,Color,Black and White,Digital

Permalink | Posted September 9, 2019

Boats

I just added a very early series of mine from the 1970's to the site. Called "Boats" the photographs are black and white photographs made in 1978 and 1979 from two marinas: Martha's Vineyard, MA and Berkeley, CA

They are here on the site.

I made the pictures two years before the Nantucket pictures (1981) and as such, they don't have the emphasis on sequencing and narration that later works did.

Made six years after getting my MFA degree from the RI School of Design the prints show a predominant concern with design and have a full tonal range from 2 1/4 inch negatives. I almost always used Kodak's Rapid Selenium toner. This is evident in the Boats prints' neutral to cool blacks. By this time I  had devised a unique system for agitating the film during developing. This resulted in exceptionally smooth tonalities in areas like open sky. The prints are in perfect condition after all these years and are about 12 x 12 inches.

With so many photographs made over so many years, I tend to categorize my own work in a couple of different ways, mostly as A work and B work. The Boats pictures are solidly in the B column, meaning I believe they are important, but not seminal. To my eye, the concern is clear to see. This was a time of continuing development, as I was refining my own approach and deepening my understanding of the quality of light used to make my pictures. The pictures are about quality, with no interest in boats as a subject whatsoever, simply as surfaces to reflect or absorb light from the sun on early morning bright days. 

Made long before those of us in the photo art community thought of editioning prints, the photographs in my studio are the only ones in existence. If you'd like to see them please email me directly: nrantoul@comcast.net

Topics: Northeast,West,Black and White

Permalink | Posted May 31, 2019