Topic: black and white and color (6 posts) Page 1 of 2

Salton Sea 2 Part 2

Continuing and finishing a look at the Salton Sea 2 series made in 2012. 

The Salton Sea, a simply incredible place, as if from another planet. The soil crunching under my feet and turning to powder at my step.

The "sun behind the pole" trick used here with some slight band of color where there's water in the background.

The first photograph in the series with a preponderance of color, some kind of fetid and polluted pond that stunk. The lens is now taking a larger role here. Push a wide angle lens down and verticals bow out.

Back to our original structural device... long, blacked-out rectangular windows and here just a hint of the pond through the building, in color. This is one of those where the actual the print (at 22 inches across) makes a huge difference. Everything is probably too small here to see the subtlety.

Moving on we turn to the right and find another expanse of what looks like devastation:

and 180 degrees:

showing the mountains in the far distance.

This photograph brings us to another abandoned structure, shot square onto the   pointed edge of the building, a clear divergence from all the others which were made as parallel plane photographs. Another pond coming up, seen through the window, is shown full frame next.

I think of this image as being the most brutal, as this pond filled with some unimaginable liquid that looks viscous, fills the frame.

Then next to the series only vertical, back to where we started from

Then to the last two images in the series, when exhibited put side by side to each other, the same file printed twice:

with the black and white image conforming to the rule that says water is color, over there on the far right of the frame, a judgement call on my part and not without controversy as some feel the print should be all black and white.

I didn't so much mind breaking my own convention as I wanted to try to prove the efficacy of the device I used. 

By showing these two in this way I wanted to present the series as yes, from the otherworldy Salton Sea and its altered reality but also to drive the point home that I was using this work as a vehicle to make a statement about contemporary photography and how the rules ordering the use of color and black and white are no longer in effect. Photography has advanced in maturity to a "no rules" system where anything goes, much as all art has. So much of present-day photography either ignores precedent or its maker is unaware of what was made before or doesn't care.

On a more personal level, although often thought of as a conventional landscape photographer, I am not. In this case, I sought to use this place as a canvas. My palette is black and white and color. I've chosen to make my painting."Take em or make em", we say. Let your photographs come out the way the tools and technology choose or impose your own ideas and construct in your work.  Salton Sea is not a conventional landscape series of photographs for I am using where I was as a vehicle or platform for what I chose to do to it. 

Topics: Color,black and white and color,Digital,Southwest

Permalink | Posted May 17, 2019

Utah Day 6

I've referenced the last time I was in Moab in 2010 during this trip in a couple of my other posts. But I was in Moab before then too. Back when we all used film, in 1998, to make our pictures, I made a series I called "Moab, Utah". They were of the railroad tracks along a mining spur on the way south from Moab along the river close to Potash. I made the prints in my darkroom.

They are on the site: here. I also wrote about them: here.

I drove by there yesterday, now twenty years later. And thought about whether it made sense to reshoot. I chose not to. Mostly I don't do that, relying on the pictures I made to stand. Much here in the Southwest  is timeless, of course, or seems it. Or perhaps it is that rock is less susceptible to perceived change than our frenetic need to make things that are new. 

At any rate, I also was back at Thompson Springs off of I 70 the other day and found what had been where I made the first picture in that series (here).

A favorite of mine, made eight years ago. This time things had changed quite a bit:

I was told by a neighbor the roof caved in and the town deemed it a safety hazard so tore it down. 

I can't forget my first experience with things ephemeral. I was making the pictures for my MFA thesis while a student at RISD in the early 70's. My subject was cars in a junkyard. I'd made a picture of the tail fin of a 1957 Buick that I liked. A week later I went back to photograph it some more only to find out that not only the fin was gone but so was the whole car! Lesson learned.

Programming note: Please don't assume I am not susceptible to what has gone on this week: Tuesday's election, Trump's bizarre press conference, Session's firing and subsequent threat to the Mueller investigation, another shooting, this time in California, only two weeks after the last one in Pittsburgh and the wildfires in Paradise, CA. All that in the past two days! I am as influenced by all this as you are, unable to escape it even here in Moab. In many ways it seems it is the worst of times. This makes my pictures taken here in a Utopia of rock and river and blue skies seem like escape. On the other hand, maybe we need a little beauty in our lives right now. 

I hope you can find a little Utah in your day today.

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

Permalink | Posted November 9, 2018

Italy 3

Let's move up into more recent times. Since I finished teaching in Venice I've been to Italy a few times: 2009, 2012, 2014. The 2009 trip was photo specific and produced some wonderful work.

In 2012 I was able to get back to the area around Latisana not far from Trieste to photograph stands of trees. The trees are grown as a crop and are for making wood pulp.

And in 2014 on a trip to both France for  Paris Photo and to Italy I made pictures in Noli, along the Italian Mediterranean

This ends the series of several posts on my time teaching and photographing in Italy. There is far more than I've represented here. I linked a few series at the bottom of this post. Very often series represented in the gallery page on the site are backed up with blogs about the same series. Easy, just go to the search function in the blog and type in the series and a list of posts will populate on the left side of the page.

Thanks for following along. 

Finally, I feel blessed to have had so many opportunities to photograph in such an incredible country as Italy for so many years. I am the beneficiary of its warmth, its wonderful people, and its beauty.

Topics: Foreign,Italy,black and white and color,Digital,Analog

Permalink | Posted January 31, 2018

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

Spring & Fall

I've posted a new series on the site called : Spring & Fall. This is a body of work that I wrote about on my blog called New Way and New Way 2. In the New Way posts I was wrestling with a group of pictures in the making, trying to figure out if I had a new series, thinking through how to make them and so on. I am learning that the blog can serve as a kind of guide for me. A way to put something out as a test, to see if it has viability. Please understand, for me to post a series on the site, to give it that level of public exposure, I want to be firmly committed to it. As I've spent the last two weeks printing these pictures I find I am committed to the body of work.

"Spring & Fall" uses the two seasons as metaphors for early life and late life, life in ascendency and a life in decline, meaning my own. While I would argue that I am very much in this life, active, involved and astute, I cannot deny that more of my best work lies behind me than ahead. So, this series reflects on this fact. I have subtitled the series, "Sun" for the spring half and "Setting" for the fall part.

I refer you to the site for the full series: Spring & Fall

Spring

Fall

The work has several layers, several structures imposed upon it to give it definition and purpose. I don't believe I will destroy the series by giving you some of mine, but you may find others. Color for spring,  black and white for fall. I have been doing this for a while now, putting color and black and white pictures together in varying ways. This is strictly against the old rules but we are in a different world now and the old rules definitely no longer apply. If you've been following what I've been writing you know the title must be a metaphor for all the pictures in the series were made in the same two week period in May. It may be a stretch but it is one I have made and that is that the color aerial ones imply an "above" character, a flight above the ground, which is light, weightless, free and without limitation. The pictures imply freedom to go anywhere and do anything, which I associate with real youth. Whereas the black and white pictures I made on the ground, in fog, are firmly mired in the ground, without much of an ability to escape, to get out, to be free or, in fact, to go anywhere else. Pretty dire, right? But the black and white pictures are also a far more evolved and thought through group of photographs. This is another thing I associate with older people. They know more! And can understand subtlety and nuance that goes right by most young people. The two ways of photographing are so inherently different this too serves as a way to emphasize the speed, quickness and "flighty-ness" (sorry, I couldn't resist) verses the grounded, perhaps somber nature of the old, moving ponderously and with deliberation. 100 miles an hour skimming 500 feet above someplace verses walking around looking , thinking, analyzing, placing. Too much? You decide. But getting older is much like that. Ones aspirations may be great but ones ability to do things is increasingly severely limited. Why use the subtitles  "Sun" and "Setting"? To further indicate the path through the pictures and reinforce the actual title. As an aside, I have never wanted anything I have written as titles or as texts hanging along with my work in shows to be anything but clarification and this is true here with this series. I hate the texts in museums that hang next to the piece explaining, presumably to the clueless, what the work is all about. It seems condescending and overly educational. I will most likely write a blog about titles and what they can mean and what I believe is good practice for titles and what is not.  But suffice it to say here that the title for this work provides the key to the work. Important? Very.

Thank you for following my work and for being subscribers (if you are). I am grateful that I have people that care enough to look, read and think about what I make. Please feel free to respond via email.

Topics: Martha's Vineyard,Color,black and white and color,Aerial,digita

Permalink | Posted June 16, 2013