Monday, June 29, 2009

Water Study (Part 2), and a New Series on Influential Artists

As promised in my previous Water Study post, here is another, completely different interpretation of the same subject, this time in color. Since it was a "local" subject and I was in no hurry, it was possible to spend more time than I normally might working a very limited area, trying to construct as many variations as possible from this little area of falls. It's not just one grand fall, but a series of cascades wandering all around the rocks and trees below a mountain lake, so there are certainly many different possibilities to be had. This type of "intimate landscape" leads me into a new subject I've been mulling over for a while: I would like to give mention to some of the greats of photography (and art) that have shaped my vision, as well as a few of the contemporary people whose work I admire. So I'm going to occasionally steer you to some different sites that I feel are worth visiting if you are at all interested in the masters that have paved the road to where we are today, or some current artists that are very worthy of attention.
Some of the people I have in mind are very well documented and represented on the web; at least one that I want to refer to is surprisingly hard to find, so I'll start with an easy one because I found an excellent website covering his work: Eliot Porter. Probably the first great color landscape photographer, his show,"Intimate Landscapes" in 1980 was the first one-man show ever of color photography at New York's Metropolitan Museum and he was one of the first masters to catch my imagination during my younger days in art school. I won't repeat a lot of info about him here, because this website is concise and full of samples.
I'll mention others as they come to mind, or seem to tie in with my own examples; probably mostly photographers, but some other types of artists too... as well as some fellow bloggers that I have found since I started doing this blog. I know that with photography in particular, lots of people have been taken up in a sudden fascination on the subject and haven't necessarily looked into the history of what got us here, so I hope I can turn a few of you on to some great work that might inspire you even further. And I would certainly love to hear back from anyone who has their own favorite masters or contemporaries that they would like to share.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some Trip Planning and a Grand View

If all goes according to plan, I'll be heading out to some prime shooting areas across the canyonlands of northern and eastern Arizona in a few weeks; that prompted me to dig up this one from several years ago. Shot from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, looking northeast under a clearing late-afternoon sky, following a day of showers and thunder (a little early this day for the really "sweet" light, but still kind of nice with the cloud shadows to emphasize the multiple layers and colors). In fact, I'm purposely delaying our upcoming trip until July, in the hope of catching some of the monsoon storms that bubble up into Arizona from Mexico in the summer. Maybe I'll capture some lightning or rainbows over Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly if I'm lucky:) You can rarely trust nature to cooperate with your best-laid plans, so we'll see how it goes, but for me, studying the weather and sky is a significant and fun part of any serious nature/landscape photo work.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Nice Little Sunset - Sky Watch #49

A sky like this is so rare around where I live, due to the mostly dry climate, that when they do occur, you just want to get out and shoot something, anything, to take advantage. This one was taken among the eroded hills above Torrey Pines State Beach, just a few miles from home. Interesting how the flowing forms of the clouds echo the similar shapes of the terrain in the foreground. Wish I could say I was considering that at the time, but if I was, it was subconsciously. As they say.. sometimes it's better to be lucky:)
Check out lots of cool sky shots from all over the globe at the Sky Watch Friday site.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Water Study: Time Provides Perspective

This image and a color one to come, were both taken over one year ago near our home in the southern California mountain community of Idyllwild. I made about 40 exposures over the course of several hours, working on the waterfall flowing out of a small local lake. (Hard to call it a "waterfall" compared to one like this, but they can't all be epic:) The whole session has been languishing in my "digital negative cabinet" since then. I had looked through the exposures several times and played briefly with a few, but just had it in my mind that there was nothing really worth developing from this session. Something about the quality of light or color of the rocks just wasn't sitting right with me at the time.
As I've talked about before, it very often pays off to go back and rework things after some time has passed.. shots that you think great in the excitement of reviewing them while brand new, can be evaluated more honestly after the attachment we feel to them has faded. Even better, as in this case, you may find something very worthy that you completely overlooked. Just consider that whatever skill level you are currently at, your eye and technique are constantly changing and developing.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rethinking the Dunes

I wanted to briefly go back and wrap up my post regarding the Algodones Dunes: "Solitude and Civilization", that I posted a few weeks ago.  At the time, I mentioned working some exposures from that session in both color and monochrome, so here is one B&W version that is very similar in composition to the color one posted previously.  You can see that it's essentially the same shot, although I shifted position slightly to lessen the size of the deep shadow on the right side of the frame.. it seemed a little overbearing in this monochrome version. Other than that, I don't have any strong preference between the two, maybe slightly towards the B&W, so I'd be interested to hear any opinions.
Check out lots of fine B&W images at: The Monochrome Weekly Theme page.  

Monday, June 1, 2009

Some English Roots

First, I'm sorry for the unusually long gap between posts, but paying work has taken priority the last couple of weeks...
Secondly, I wanted to throw a change up in here just for fun. I know I have at least a few regular visitors from the U.K., and thinking about that inspired me to dig up something a little different for this, a bit of personal history:
My mother's family emigrated from England to the Boston, Mass. area early last century and I kind of promised myself that if I was ever "in the neighborhood", I would try to find the small town of Ilfracombe, in southwest England, that they had left behind. My wife and I were staying near Bath a few years ago, having taken the train from London, and had already decided to rent a car and drive down to Devon and stay in the town for a few days, since we wanted to see that area anyway. I already knew, from an old (circa 1930) tourism catalog that somehow got left over from my grandparent's possessions and found it's way to me, that Ilfracombe is a resort area, but we were pleasantly surprised at what a beautiful little place it is, sitting right on the north coast surrounded by rolling green hills and rocky cliffs. Hiking on the cliff tops and looking out over the ocean, it felt remarkably like some of the coastal areas I now enjoy in California, so maybe it was in my blood that I would end up here on the west coast, close to the pacific and it's many rocky cliffs. It was surely kind of odd, walking around this little village, halfway around the world from where I live now, realizing that my grandfather and his family had lived a good portion of their lives among these same streets and houses... and that they probably didn't look very much different then than they do today. After returning home, I contacted a nice lady from the Ilfracombe town museum and she helped me trace this branch of my family back several generations, so I definitely have long history here, but I got to the point where it was going to take some serious investigation to go back any further. Hopefully, I will return some day and be better prepared to do some efficient research, since they have many years of historical records at the museum.
From Boston, my grandfather eventually found his way to northern New Hampshire, where my mother and later myself, was born, while my great grandparents lived out their lives in the Cambridge/Arlington area, just west of Boston.
I really like this shot of the town harbour, taken at twilight. It has a special significance for me and people seem to like it even before knowing it's story; for some reason, many ask me if it was taken in Denmark:)