Topic: Foreign (18 posts) Page 2 of 4

Class Over

We have just finished a week of class in northern Iceland at the Baer Art Center in Hofsos. We had many field trips, refined our skills in Lightroom, went on a boat trip up the fjord, cooked wonderful meals of great fresh salmon and lamb, laughed and photographed all hours of the endless daylight into the nights.

Students finished with many RTP (Ready to Print files) to take back with them to print on their own or to hand over to a service bureau back in Reykjavik for I urged them to make prints, just as I urge you to.

The highlight of the week was when we piled onto an excursion boat to slide up the coast past Baer to the "Cape" where the cliff face opens up to reveal a near vertical rock wall of several hundred feet.  I'd photographed this in 2013 when I was here as a resident but this time the conditions were even better, calm seas with flat gray light.

Making pictures like these:

astounding, miraculous and somehow deeply moving, as though from a different planet.

A simply incredible rock wall several hundred feet tall.

This from the boat where we stayed at the Baer Art Center, very near the Cape. The studios are on the left.

I am on the road now for a few days, driving Iceland's Ring Road to the east with Mercedes, the workshop's most wonderful assistant (thank you, Mercedes!), and putting her on a plane later this morning to return home. I fly out later this week. I am planning on spending a few days along the South Coast. Last week had been mostly free from tourists. We'll see how I do as I enter back into Iceland's main stream. 

Topics: Iceland,Foreign,Digital,New Work

Permalink | Posted August 6, 2017

Step Back

If you read the blog regularly you know that I am now in northern Iceland teaching a one week workshop at the Baer Art Center outside of Hofsos.

Class started today.

Latest chaos: Priebus fired, earlier in the week Spicer resigning, a new Communications Director, transgenders out of the military, repealed Obama health care on and then off, McCain and cancer, on and on. 

Little or no Trump-created mayhem here, simply this:

taken this morning about 1 am. Or this:

which is quite literally the view out my bedroom window. No McConnell, no Kelly Anne Conway, none of them. In a different country, not so far from the Arctic Circle and so far from all that.

Do we realize how immersive this has been, this constant barrage of craziness we've been subjected to? It is a real pleasure to be able to step back from all the DC-based chaos. 

I am here because I applied for and was awarded an artist in residency in 2013. I was then asked back to teach for a week. 

We will talk about simplification, essentials, foundations, trust, boundaries and limits, goals and aspirations, form versus content, relevance, insecurities, barriers, accessibility, one's creative practice and a whole bunch of other things. We will break it down and build it back up, work to understand ourselves better through our work, to grapple with layers like peeling an onion, to go deeper, to confront time.

What I have in class is 9 seriously accomplished Icelandic women who are highly involved in the arts and culture of this country. Some are career photographers and  their work frequently exhibited. This, of course, sets the bar high on me as their teacher. Bring it on.

The trick, of course, it to speak from one's base of knowledge and experience. To address the issues at hand, the concerns and the obstacles confronted in one's own career towards an understanding of what obstructs and hinders others'. What do you want to achieve and can you address paths to get there? Here in Iceland can I help with that or is this a struggle they must solve on their own? One approach is to spend some time writing it down, your artist philosophy, if you will. Brief, maybe a paragraph. A life immersed in Creative Practice is to assume your own innate creative capabilities, the foundation of your aesthetic lives across a broad array of life's mundane activities, chores, jobs, family, relationships and so on. And as you well know, what are your inputs, your inspirations? Is it music, other visual arts, what you read or discuss. Here with this around us, is it where we are physically for the week?

We will see as the week's time together has just started.

Looking forward and stay tuned.

Topics: Color,Digital,Foreign

Permalink | Posted July 30, 2017


In November 2014 I flew to Paris, picked up a rental car and drove south to Alba, Italy to visit with my friends John and Donna, who lived there then. Donna was working during the days so John and I went off so he could show me around. We stopped a few times to photograph. One morning we stopped at some wine vineyards, as there was a break in the rain. This is the famous Barbaresco area of vineyards, maintained now for generations and known to produce some of the best wines of Italy.

Over a couple of hours, with my camera on a tripod and with a long lens, I pointed at the rows of vines. The lens compresses space, bringing the farther away in closer and putting the closer subjects on a similar plane. It was gray and flat, with occasional breaks in the clouds letting sunlight in. It was dead calm and looked like it could start to rain again any moment.

I have just finished a very urban set of pictures of a new apartment building in Cambridge called Zinc. In deciding to go through back files I think I was looking for a counter to the dystopian view of a contemporary world gone askew that was Zinc. The vineyard pictures I had made in 2014 in Italy proved to be just the thing: beauty and this ancient landscape of manicured vineyards in these rolling hills.

The head versus the heart. Pictures made with much thought, thinking through the angles, framing, photographing for impact and to drive the point home versus letting the process of photographing unfold, variety within a common theme, and letting the sheer beauty wash over me. No schedule, no time limits. Just working, looking and feeling the place, the smells, the air and being at someplace simply sublime. About as good as it gets.

Almost two years between these two sets of pictures. Without one would there be the other? Probably not.The Zinc pictures just shot and printed this spring (2016) are all about the work made in this crystalline clarity, jarring and cutting like a knife. In comparison there is a flow here, a pattern, one affecting the other that is important to see, to react to. Just as we need to be at our creative best when in front of something we are photographing, just as we need to be tuned and in top form when we are making the prints, we also need to be 100% aware of one body of work affecting another.

Can I say that I was thinking about the Vineyard pictures from Italy while I was making Zinc? No. Can I say that after finishing the work on Zinc, feeling depleted and a little low, I was searching for something uplifting, far away and imbued with color? Yes, I can.

This is probably a first for me. One body of work just finished precipitating the printing of an earlier body of work. Maybe I should pair them. Will think about that.

The full series is now on the gallery page of the site here.

Topics: Foreign,Color,Digital,New Work

Permalink | Posted April 26, 2016

11 Days Out

I am now 11 days out from having surgery to replace my left hip (the right hip was done back in November). One of the after effects of having all the drugs in you from surgery is that several of your systems are also put to sleep. For instance, your digestive track may need a kick start to begin working again. So then you are being given drugs to counteract other drugs. In there you sort of lose your mind. Not as though you go crazy but my  mind was reduced to working in a far more primal state: survival. Days are simple; eat, stay warm, drink fluids, rest. Not because you're  being told to do this but because this is all you've got. Gradually I did begin to surface, to be able to think. At about 6 days out I found myself sitting at my kitchen table one morning all alone crying my eyes out. Was I sad, was there some big tragedy on my life? Nope, just strong a wave of emotion coming to the surface having been suppressed by drugs due to surgery. I remember being really happy at this outburst, this catharsis that meant I was able to feel again.

Over the past few days, real thought has been possible. Hell, I couldn't turn thought off. Ideas springing forth, as though some tap had been turned on. Pictures to make, new ways of working to explore, places to go to photograph, past projects to print, or reprint or to bring to the front. In fact, so many ideas that I have to be careful I don't act on them in haste. I could find my condo for sale, a new car in my garage, new lenses arriving even though I have bills to pay, me owning a vacation home someplace. 

But in terms of pictures, these from 2012 popped right up:

In a three or four print series

From a small northern Italian coastal town called Forti Di Marmi.

Painted rental changing rooms on a private beach. Why? Good question. Not the deepest of pictures I have ever made but perhaps more of a sensual delight; strong colors, a fast rendition due to the sweep to the railings and ceilings pulling back to a flat plane, a sense of constancy in design within the group, variety within a common theme. At any rate, there they were demanding my attention, these pictures made  in 2012. The current plan is make large prints of them. I think of them as a sort of celebration.

While I can't show you where I am headed I can show you what I am working on as past projects to fully realize, or in one case, re-realize work made in the past to bring it to the front.

Stay tuned. 

12 Days Out coming up next. 

So, despite that I am still using crutches to walk around and not driving yet, I don't think I'd be going out much to shoot today anyway. This is what my outdoor thermometer said this morning.


Topics: Foreign,Color,Digital,Series

Permalink | Posted February 14, 2016

Solothurn, CH

In 1983 I made a group of pictures in the town of Solothurn in Switzerland. 

They were a breakthrough group for me. As big as Nantucket (my first series) or the Oakesdale Cemetery (made in 1997) pictures, these brought me into a new way of seeing, in making sequential  pictures and established and confirmed a methodology that serves me to this day.

This was the first time I linked pictures next to each other. Putting something hinted at in one frame then clearly stated in the next but with the whole scene around it changing. A concept totally reliant on the very wide lens I used being held level to deceive the viewer into thinking all was normal when, of course, it was not. Note the laundry drying rack coming right up into your face in the second frame. That's an indicator at the severity of the width of the lens.

I wrote recently about the  pictures from Arsenale in Venice made 20 years later. Clearly, the pictures from Solothurn are the precedent (on the site here). I don't know if you can learn something from them or if they read as relevant today, but they sure rocked my world then. Epiphany? Oh yes, for sure. The closest I can come to Solothurn in the present day is the The Wall, Chelsea, MA made in 2014. If I hadn't made the Solothurn pictures 31 years earlier who knows if I would have arrived at the same place.

Note the same crumbling wall in all three of the photographs above.

Part of the act or life of being a career artist has to be this: the ability to sense that you've arrived at something large enough to pay attention to, to remember, to use in your cache of abilities, to apply when you find yourself in front of it again. In my case, this way of working is clearly a subset of a larger structure, the series work itself. You must have that too, a way of seeing or a sensitivity to a certain form or shape or content that you've worked with before and are familiar with. Repetitious? No, I don't think so. Just working within a construct that has worked before and that is used again when relevant.

In looking at these again, now made 32 years ago (yikes!), I find huge differences in the way I was seeing back then compared to now. The pictures looked less "together", less formalized, less structured and tight. There is a looseness to the Solothurn pictures that I like very much. Blurry here? Whatever. The edge not perfect? So what.

Don't like that branch coming down and intruding into the frame? Deal with it. A little assertive and sure. I am not implying I am less now, just different.

Take that camera with its fixed 38 mm Zeiss Biogon lens out of level and all hell breaks loose. 

See why I was so excited? These three frames above sliding along that same wall with the shutters, the door, the propane tank, and the wonderful bonus of the hanging garment in plastic rendered in multiple frames was simply too much. 

And then we start a new chapter or section:

Completely irresistible.

Solothurn, CH 1983. 


Want to see real prints of these? Contact 555 Gallery and ask if they can be made available for viewing. But be careful: there is only one set of the original 1983 prints and I do not break up series work for individual sales. But know this: you can look all you want for free.

Topics: Black and White,Foreign,Vintage

Permalink | Posted October 6, 2015