Topic: Color (152 posts) Page 1 of 31

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

Life Intrudes

As much as photography is large in my life,  there is "other". As a younger man, I believed photography constituted an escape, a way to divert away from all that noise and tune into something my own that was positive and beautiful.  

But our health issues cannot be denied and I went in late last week for a heart-based procedure that produced less than favorable results. A consult with a heart surgeon this week should decide my fate. I am looking to be less out of breath at the top of the stairs to say nothing of being able to tackle hills on my bike. 

We've had quite a year. From unfathomable numbers of deaths and misery to art-making held in check, such a loss of momentum that it makes one wonder if it will ever come back. I did what I always do when my tank is empty.  I kept working. And, I've made a few, although not a continuous stream of ideas made into real things as before, but prints in a box on a shelf, nevertheless.  

I look a lot. Driving, doing errands, getting by with too much streaming, not enough people to hear different ideas expressed. As I move around: yes, no, maybe, needs different light, a different season, I want that but can't stop here, more an accrual of single pictures than before when one was connected to the next for a series.  Simple really. Maybe that's it, we are addled, out of sorts, unable to concentrate or hold focus. But, it's good to look, to be on the hunt. Proves continued involvement. I've gotten to know a new neighborhood (I moved a year ago). What a pleasure to go around a corner to find something new. I lived in Cambridge and Boston so long there was not much new. Acton, Concord, Stowe, Maynard, Hudson, Marlborough, and so on.  All good, rich. As I've learned, it is a region of water: streams, rivers, ponds marshes and swamps.

Been a time to retrospect too. I am struck by just how much things matter and then later how little they do. When younger there were always students, crazed to soak up experience and knowledge, to hear stories, and then hand them down to others. Now, not so much. Non-photo and non-art family not so interested so who to listen and look, who then?

Soon, back to the usual, pretty much. You can see it on the trip to the market, to filling up, to going to work out. More and more vaccinated, feeling safer.

Leaving you with these: 

photographs © Neal Rantoul

All are from either Martha's Vineyard or Chappaquiddick.

Topics: Northeast,New Work,Digital,Color

Permalink | Posted May 23, 2021