My sympathies go out to the blog these days as it has been ignored and neglected. I owe you all an apology.
At any rate, perhaps from feeling as though my days have been strung together and all the same, I took a day last week and drove out Rt 2 to Montague, MA, about 1 1/2 hours west of Boston, to photograph. Simple really, no real intent in mind, to look and to shoot, small-town content being part of my background as a photographer.
There were no big surprises, no epiphanies, just a late fall sunny day, walking a street with a camera in hand.
Sun at my back, a wide lens, I found things came to hand through familiarity, the sense that I'd been here before, if not in this specific place, places like it.
Typical for me, this walking down a street, looking, shooting. Clearly trespassing with a camera but staying on the street or sidewalk, taking my time, for I am no fast-shooting street photographer. Probably too many years with the 8 x 10, wanting to see and know everything in the frame and shooting slower because of it. I don't photograph to come across surprises later, although it does happen.
The broader implications of this work? I have no idea, although I revel in the medium's ability to describe details and to handle a wide dynamic range. Remarkable.
I also believe, in this case, in photography's ability to be relatively honest, or at least to look like what it renders. Slippery that, isn't it? For we know all too well photography's propensity to lie.
But if you haven't lately, go out with a camera, look through it, and trip its shutter. Just for the pleasure of it, looking through our little black box, capturing an image to bring back with us to hold and perhaps print or share.
You and I know that, that this thing we do is amazing. For me, it has completely been my life and career. So many fell off, spun out into something different, lost their whatever (drive, motivation?). Not me, I stayed with it: making pictures.
One thing I've noticed? As time goes on I now will crop to make the image better or more clear and less ambiguous. That's an old rule no longer true. I make the print now the shape and proportion it needs to be rather than hanging in with some rigid "no crop" rule. Along with that goes "standard print sizes", old and archaic: 8 x10, 11 x 14, 16 x 20, and so on. Out. Now I might use the same size paper for a body of work, but the images will float around on that same size paper in different sizes and proportions.
So, where does that leave us? Some new pictures from a veteran photographer. Someone with over 50 years of experience practicing his craft and through this wonderful vehicle of the blog, sharing it with you. Want to see them continue? Then comment or send an email: here.
As always and after ten years of the blog (hard to believe) I am most appreciative of you the readers. Thank you.
If at first, you don't succeed, keep working. That's what I've been doing lately, driving an hour out Rt 2 west of Boston to the Baldwinville exit, then north through town to the Lake Dennison Conservation Area. Several trips. Very traditional landscape pictures using the Sony handheld, much as I did years ago with an 8 x 10 view camera. Hard to get good pictures in the woods, branches obscuring your subject, the light often not right or too harsh. A system of high craft, isolation and selection. Rewarding when you get a good one but all too rare. Beauty's the thing, classic design, foreground to background interplay; water, grass, trees, nothing new here but an effort to bring the skills back into play. Very rusty at first but getting it back now.
I have never had a tenuous grasp on whatever it is that I have had through my career but the past 20 months of Covid and some medical setbacks have sidelined me. I can report I am back with strength at last and seeing well again.
This place is perfect, pictures made in isolation, no conflicts or distractions. Just me, the camera, and the subject. Simple, clean.
Good to be working again.
Photographically, this is one of the best times in New England, late autumn, just before the snow comes to change it all, the ground hard frozen, the air crisp, everything off the trees.
(wall light at the Mansion House Hotel)
Don't know what this post is about? Suggest you read Delivered 1 first.
As the morning light increased and I walked around the town I began to feel some old muscles coming back to life. "I wonder that this will look like? What if I put this up against this? Include this in the frame or not? Move in or out? Darker, lighter, more DOF, faster shutter?" All those decisions to make, ingrained in my make-up over so many years being a photographer starting to surface after so long dormant.
At the end of the long interview with Linsey Lee at the Museum for an oral history I found myself saying that I felt we were at the very edge of things getting better. We had voted out the most terrible of presidents in our lifetimes, democracy had survived a real test January 6 when the capital was breached, and, although the stats are truly horrible with 410,000 dead from COVID 19, I believe Biden will work hard to get us back on track with the vaccine as quickly as possible.
Are we just now starting to see the end of this nightmare we've been living in? Is this the very beginning of the end? Yes, I believe it may just be.
The show installed
My daughter Maru and I delivered the ABOVE show to the Martha's Vineyard Museum on the 19th and were put up in the Mansion House Hotel nearby that night. The next day (Joe Biden's inauguration day) we were back at the Museum at 9 as they had scheduled an interview and video session for me to answer questions for an oral history. 2 hours later we were in line for the ferry back off the island, the idea being the less exposure and the less contact the better. We were away 24 hours.
Although Martha's Vineyard is where my family summer home is, this was a treat of unimaginable proportions. Spending time with Maru, being someplace different, seeing my work coming to life, sleeping in a different bed, being OUT. I pledge not take travel for granted ever again.
I got out at dawn the 20th to walk with a camera before my interview. No big deal, but to see, to exercise that visual part of my psyche was wonderful.
From the hotel's roof deck at dawn
and walking around Vineyard Haven
I'll put up a few more in Delivery 2 next.
I am told the show is up and will be viewable tomorrow, January 22. The Museum is open, with attendance restricted. I advise calling ahead: 508-627-4441.
Note to all those who have worked on this show and sought to bring it to view at the Museum. You are fantastic and I am very grateful. What an honor to have my work shown there.
Mountain View Estates: what comes to mind? A series of Tyrolian style cottages nestled in a pasture looking over the Swiss Alps, perhaps? Or a gated community of high-end homes with a grand view of the snow-capped Colorado Rockies?
Not at all. Mt View Estates is a housing development sitting on a hill above a gravel pit in White River Junction, Vermont.
I found it in 1991:
It blew me away and became an obsession, as these things do, for about a year. Here are a few more:
Hypothetical: local builder gets word that the old gravel pit up the hill is going on sale. His uncle is on the town planning board so they cut a deal that will allow the builder to buy the land cheap and put houses on it around the perimeter of the actual pit. Rules are bent. There is only a passing discussion about whether some of the new homes might slide into the pit. They both make out like bandits.
Last picture in the series:
A dead bird.
Prints are about 12 inches square and are analog, printed by me, and archivally processed. They are in A+ condition. There is only one set.
Box where the negatives are stored.
The full series is on the gallery page of the site: Mt View Estates
Wishing you a warm, safe, and excellent holiday. May 2021 bring us all relief from this godawful pandemic. I do believe things will start to improve on January 20th.
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