Topic: Northeast (85 posts) Page 1 of 17

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

Incredible

Incredible. 48 years! You hear old folks saying all the time: "Where'd all the years go?" but seriously, where did all the years go?

As a grad student at the RI School of Design, where I graduated in the spring of 1973, I was meant to produce two copies of my thesis, one for the school's library and one for the Photography Department. Some did, others didn't. 

I did.

My thesis was photographs I made in auto junkyards. 

Did I have it in my head that I was making these pictures to speak to issues of our wasteful society, of consumerism run amok, or of protecting our environment? I did not. I liked the forms and shapes of the wrecked cars and trucks, the shiny     chrome, the rusted panels.  In our class, critiquing this work as I made it, no one brought up any of the above issues. The politics of the work was not apparent for this was a far more innocent time. We were demonstrating against the war in Vietnam but not against the lack of awareness in our work.

Photographs were made then for their aesthetic, perhaps technique was discussed, or print size, the paper they were printed on or our use of the camera. The mechanics of photography was a much bigger deal then for good craft was harder. It took skill to make a great print.

But where does 48 years come in?

Last week while out visiting my high school (Darrow School, New Lebanon, NY) I went back to Adler's Antique Auto in Stephentown to photograph in much the same way I did in 1973 in Rhode Island, 48 years ago.

The same but hugely different too. Then: the Rollei SL66 21/4 camera on a tripod with the 80mm Carl Zeiss f2.8 Planar lens and Kodak Plus X film. (I still have this camera) Now: the Sony A7R MK lV camera hand held with the 70-200mm f2.8 G-Master lens.

Then: black and white, printed by me in my basement darkroom on Agfa Portriga Rapid 11 x 14 inch paper.

Now: color, printed by me in my studio using the Epson P9000 inkjet printer with Red River Polar Matte 17 x 25 inch paper.

Of course, this wasn't the same junkyard as in 1973, but over the years I had photographed at Adler's a few times, most notably with the 8 x 10 camera, for Adler's is quite special, a tribute to rust with its emphasis on 40s and 50s cars and trucks.

Adler's Antique Auto, Stephentown, NY


Like going back in time, photographing in an auto junkyard again after 48 freaking years!

Topics: Analog,Digital,Black and White,Color,Northeast

Permalink | Posted May 9, 2021

After Fred Sommer

In February 2014 I wrote a series of blogs about the time I spent with the photographer Fred Sommer in Prescott AZ in 1979.

#1

https://nealrantoul.com/posts/fred-sommer

#2

https://nealrantoul.com/posts/fred-sommer-day-2

#3

https://nealrantoul.com/posts/fred-sommer-day-3

#4

https://nealrantoul.com/posts/fred-sommer-addendum


At the end of that most incredible of visits, I said goodbye to Fred and his wife Frances, got back in my aging Porsche 914 and drove straight from Arizona to Washington, DC and, effectively crashed. Staying with friends, if memory serves I slept for a night and a day, and then went out to photograph.

What I did was try to assimilate much of what Fred had told me earlier in the week.

If you've followed this blog for a while you know that it wasn't until 1981 or 1982 that I came across the way of working I call "series work." And yet, there I was making photographs that stylistically look much as the Nantucket pictures did three years later or the Yountville pictures did a little after that.

However, these are "immature" in that I knew nothing about linking my pictures together in 1979. I thought of these simply as single pictures reflecting the time and place and little else. 

Next up? I am working on a new offering, a limited edition portfolio. We don't see so much of these anymore but I am going to make a set of photographs of something very special and will announce them here.

Stay tuned!

Topics: Black and White,Analog,Northeast

Permalink | Posted February 11, 2021

Delivered 2

(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

Topics: New England,Color,Digital,Northeast

Permalink | Posted January 22, 2021

Delivered 1

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.

Topics: Northeast,Digital,New England,Color

Permalink | Posted January 21, 2021