Topic: Color (153 posts) Page 1 of 31

A Little Crazy

Well, things got a little crazy the past two weeks or so. First Skye (my granddaughter) came back from camp in NH early due to getting Covid and then Maru (my daughter) got it at the end of Skye's quarantine. We live close enough to one another that I have either been at the studio or off on a road trip.

Last week I took 48 hours and drove to Burlington, VT to shoot. The weather was wonderful and I shot enough to feel like I was successfully renewing earlier days when I was very prolific. I've been printing the past 2 days and there are good pictures, thank God.

Driving northern Vermont's back roads behind the wheel of this

was just plain fun. Do you know that going through Smuggler's Notch the road goes down to one lane but is still two-way? That had its moments. 

Smuggler's Notch, NH

At this point, I ask not so much: well framed, well exposed, cleanly seen and above all enough perception to make pictures that are smart.

I make no excuses but it has been a long time dry. Hard to not be cynical, to not regard photography as something largely in the rearview mirror. Much time in the studio since moving in February; editing, filing, labeling, including contextual information with bodies of work, updating the archives' database, etc. Probably too much, as looking back makes it hard to look forward. With friend Gail here from Toronto a few weeks ago giving me a needed kick in the butt I am looking forward again. 

Put your eye up to the finder, look, compose, wonder, set focus, hold the camera steady, trip the shutter, think: different angle, different focus, lower, higher, needs different time of day or different time of year? After all, what are the chances that as you stand in front of whatever, you are there at the best of possible times? Remote at best. Or, are you in front of it with a camera because you've spotted it at the best of possible times? Who's to say?

Ah, perfection is elusive. And can be dull too. Let a little humanity in there, a little   roughness around the edges, a little something wry, twisted, organic, intuitive and felt. Try not to make past pictures over and over, but be adventurous and provocative.

Wake up! Approach your subject like a hunter, after your prey. Analyze it, think it over, and look critically. You are making photographs, a medium where being done well is exceptionally difficult. Look at the genius of the masters that preceded you. Do you aspire to that? Bring your A game.

The blog now has a comments section. Feel free to respond. Confirms my efforts.

Topics: Northeast,Color,Digital,New Work

Permalink | Posted August 23, 2022

How About This

How about this: a group of photographs connected by geography, day, time and year, proximity, mindset, intellect, experience, ambition, a sense of irony, and perhaps humor.

Hm.Too much? Incomprehensible?

Let me see if I  can unpack this a little. (Note: this won't work very well if you are casually passing through this post. To get where I am going you'll have to open the links to look at the referenced series. Apologies, for I am a career teacher. Perhaps you'd allow me to place you in my classroom for a short time.)

I was visiting friends who are down a peninsula aways in rural Maine in mid-summer. Off I go with my friend and we come across Small Point, Maine about 7 a.m. on a late July morning. Walk and photograph. Just as in countless times over a now-long career. Look, point the camera, acquire frames like stacking cards, one influencing the next, the previous conditioning what next to look for over 30 minutes or so. 

The pictures are about where I am but also what I think and what I am selecting and making. Sequencing and juxtaposition playing a key role at the same time as light, color, texture and form. 

In my work, I have always been interested in sharing why I make a decision to make a photograph and also in what I do to it to own it. My pictures have seldom been just about the thing itself, even though I am as reliant as we all are for great content.

The morning had great content.

Back to these new pictures, with a disclaimer or acknowledgment that my sense of what a series is and what it takes to make a series has changed definition throughout my career with now being no different. In early days, pretty rigid, as in Nantucket and Yountville: flat light, wide lens, close in with dense content that is urban. Later, as in Grain Silo or Salton Sea: unfolding interest in color, spacial depth, making internal statements while working with a far more open landscape. Embracing digital tools and inherent quality and flexibility. On to late mature works like Field in 2016, very pure black and white and all the traditions that embraces, but with some very contemporary concepts contained within. Or San Jose Squares in 2018, with consummate photographic quality aligned with truly unusual ways of seeing an ordinary city landscape.

To now, the concept of series work having percolated and morphed through a physical move to a new home, a family in crisis, some deaths, a pandemic, and a country in real disarray over three years or so. How could the pictures I make not change? Well, they have. If our art is not a reflection of who we are and what we think and feel I would question the honesty of the art.

Yes, I am getting to the pictures.

First up, an arbitrary and manufactured interest in doubling up, to form a structure or containment, for we can't aimlessly photograph everything. Later this all fading out, going to triples and then that fading away too. Again: early days rules and rigidity. Today? In mid-2022? Not so much.

So, where does that leave us? Some new pictures and some sense that things are different, at least in intent. I believe there is less baggage in my photographing now. Freer from past positions and responsibilities, released from the effort to make "significant work" and free now to just photograph. 

I would very much appreciate your thoughts. Is this a post that is clear and concise or garbled and meaningless? 

The effort to imbue our pictures with meaning beyond just an impression of what is in front of the camera is one of photography's great challenges. We know people have done it and their genius is commendable. But one method that has traction is in sequencing, juxtaposing, contrasting, and framing. I learned a lot from Nathan Lyon's Notations in Passing and I suggest you would too.

Have I struck a chord in your efforts to be better or to make work that has staying power?

Let me know at: nrantoul@comcast.net. Or comment below.

Topics: Color,Digital,Northeast

Permalink | Posted August 2, 2022

From the Archives 3

In From the Archives and From the Archives 2 we looked at some work that I felt might have been missed or passed over. Being prolific has its downsides.

In From the Archives 3 we're going to look at work made over the winter of 2012. Having just retired the year before I was free to make new work. The year before I had been invited to present at the Yuma (AZ) Art Symposium, a remarkable meeting of all kinds of artists, including pin makers and jewelry artists. 

After that brief exposure. to Yuma, I decided to spend most of the next winter living there. This turned out to be a very productive time. Here are a few:

Lake Martinez

Castle Dome Mine Museum

Goldfield Ghost Town

Salton Sea

As is often true for many of my series, Salton Sea had concurrent ideas going on at the same time. The dystopian view of a wasteland fecund and irredeemable, and an experiment of color and black and white coexisting. I could feel my teachers rolling over in their graves as I worked on the files back in Cambridge.

And last, the first year of making the Dunes pictures started that winter. The next year I spent time in San Diego with much less photographic success but did drive back to Yuma for ten days to complete the Dunes project, aerial and ground-based imagery from the Imperial Sand Dunes in California, just over the border from Yuma.

Dunes

 Just like Iceland would be for me two years later, I found the dunes a revelation; abstract, otherworldly, and very beautiful. Being freed from teaching and no longer having the duties of a full professor at a large urban university not only made going away possible but also allowed freedom of thought and immersion in what it is that I do, which is photograph.

Comments welcome.

Topics: Color,Black and White,Digital,Southwest

Permalink | Posted February 28, 2022

From the Archives 2

This continues a series of posts in the blog that examine earlier essays.

This one gets us looking at "The Field" made in 2016. There are two posts: The Field and The Field 2.

Photographs made at the Medfield State Hospital in Medfield MA.

Quiet and unassuming, the pictures are of a field behind the hospital that was used to grow produce for the patients for many years.

I made the photographs the summer after having both hips replaced and so, was pleased to be getting back to work. They are in black and white, while the last one is in color. 

The Hospital has been closed since 2003.

This one is close to my heart. The series is: here

Topics: Color,Black and White,Digital

Permalink | Posted February 12, 2022

Best of 2021 Part 2

In Part 1 (here) we looked at the best of my work in the early part of the year. Here we'll continue from May on.

Medfield State Hospital

This one, from a junkyard near Albany NY in May. Feeling bad, this was six weeks before I had open-heart surgery, weak and easily winded. I wrote about photographing in junkyards and my forty years of experience: here.

Peaked Hill, Chilmark, MA, the highest spot on Martha's Vineyard, in June.

In Lawrence, MA in August in a diner.

Holyoke, MA

Fitchburg, MA

By October and November, I was photographing at Lake Dennison Recreation Area in Winchendon, MA. The Miller River cuts through the park.

In December I continued at Lake Dennison until the gates were closed for the season near Christmas. 

That about sums it up, 2021. I tend to think in terms of "before surgery" and "after surgery" in that some priorities are a little different now.  While still highly motivated to make work I think less of how my work will be accepted and more of what peace and pleasure it brings me. If that, in turn, brings something good to your days then it is all for the better. Certainly, I am less for the noise and more for the quiet these days.  

Topics: Color,Commentary,Digital,Northeast

Permalink | Posted January 3, 2022