Friday, July 6, 2018

How Photography Can Reach You

How photography can reach you.

Yesterday I sold a print of this dune melody I made in Death Valley a few years ago. It's been a popular seller and for that I'm thankful. This buyer, from the East Coast loves imagery of the West. This is a pretty common phenom.....craving something that's not in your own backyard. This photograph looks great large and he already has a place designated for presentation.

The buyer and I had a wonderful discussion about photography. I'm always fascinated with the reasons why people invest in certain images. And, the answers often surprise me. But, that's art. Everyone appreciates art in different ways. Their interpretations may differ and hold no connection to what the artist envisioned whatsoever. 

My favorite saying is, "It only matters that it matters to you." Yet, most of the photography hanging in our home is from other photographers. I adore the medium and multiple visions from varied visual artists.

He asked if I had a personal favorite from my trip to Death Valley. I said I did have one. (It's the second image added here). I explained my early influences in the medium were less from Ansel Adams (he used that reference) and more from Edward Weston, Paul Caponigro, Minor White, Jerry Uelsmann, Alfred Stieglitz, Margarete Bourke-White, Dorothy Lange, Sebastio Salgado, to name a few.

I told him this image of the dying bush in dark volcanic soil hit me on a deeper level. I saw something very different than what existed before me. This idea comes from an old photography theory known as "Equivalence". I saw a solar system exploding in stars and the bush was like a flower holding the universe in it's grasp. No doubt, a moment I was fully absorbed in. And though it doesn't matter, that vision has been replicated in the minds of others. They felt the same thing I did while in the field.

Pretty cool.

Adams used to say that if he had 6 good shots in a day, it was a fine day.

That day was one of mine.

Tech Info on Dunes Photograph:
ISO 100 1/13th sec. @ F/40 with 400mm Nikon Lens, shot on Dec. 5th 2014 at 5:44 p.m.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Photography Fears

Lets Grab Some Sky!

It's no stretch to say I'm not fond of heights. But, for this assignment on tower builders for SMITHSONIAN Magazine years ago, I had to get up on these 1,000 footers to photograph the guys building them in rural Texas.

It's always amazes me how we can channel our fears to perform our jobs. Staying focused on the job temporarily shoves the fear aside.

Still, I don't like climbing ladders.
Go figure?

Click on image to enlarge

Pre Visualize Your Photograph

Pre-visualization plays a big role in how photographers create some images. Experimenting with new techniques, a different lens, different paper, or better yet, subject matter out of your comfort zone, adds gold into that visual tool bag.

When I came across this old aircraft graveyard in Grey Bull, Wyoming, I knew I wanted to give some of the images a vintage look to facilitate how I felt about the scene.

It was an amazing location to photograph. Problem was, I saw vintage images, B/W images, and color images all in different areas. My brain felt like a ping-pong match afterwards departing exhausted, but satiated.

Click on image to enlarge.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Follow Up, Then Follow Through With Your Photography Ideas

The great photographer Minor White used to say to young shooters, 
"You need to learn to listen the messages."

  We spotted this barn being taken down by a couple near Belle Plaine, Minnesota. I was in route to an assignment in the Dakota's and made a note to myself to stop the next day on the way back if they were still there working. They were!

I returned for four straight days as they dismantled the entire barn, loaded onto a semi truck and took it to New Mexico where they planned on building a cabin. Great way to recycle old wood. It was a earthy & interesting story.

I then sold numerous stories to magazines with several images being used in advertising campaigns because of those stories.

Follow your instincts and more importantly, follow through.
If it's a good idea, find a way to share it.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Iceland Is Far More Than Landscapes

The lure of Iceland is an inspiring desire for many around the world.

It first harnessed my attention as a kid growing up in Alaska. On the News was the evolving story of a new island, Surtsey, emerging from the ocean depths. Then again in 1973, Eldfell erupts on the island of Heimaey.

C'mon, HOW COOL IS THAT? Mother Earth creating new land masses.

Several years ago I was doing a story on Iceland. The fine people I met along that journey further strengthened my admiration for this tiny island sitting directly on top of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

I had visited the Skogar Folk Museum in South Iceland and interviewed & photographed the curator Thordor Tommasson. For those of you who have met him, you know, you'll never forget him. What a wonderful person.

For this portrait we were outside a tiny house on the grounds. Thordor was already a tiny fella. I laughed at the size of the doorway. I knew I'd hit my head all the time in that entrance!

Iceland is far more than landscapes.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

My First Photograph

A fun conversation with an old friend last night about photography provoked a fine memory from the early days.

His question aimed at me was "do you recall your first memorable image?" Impossible, right?

I actually do have one. Well past the days of just taking pretty pictures, it was the day I had graduated into making photographs. Sounds silly, but those of you who know, know.

I was educated in fine art photography, using large format B/W (4x5 View Camera) to be more exact, and learning the ZONE SYSTEM of exposure/development was a huge part of my technical education. Once I perfected this, I was making technically sound images everywhere of everything. Problem was just that.....I was making technically perfect images. But, failed as a photographer. I was creating technical representations of nothing. And soon, visual boredom set in.

Then, one Spring day hiking the shores of Lake Superior, I walked upon this lovely scene of melting ice. The calmness, the reflections, the brilliant tonal values of the scene all elevated my visual senses to new heights. It moved me spiritually like nothing else ever had. I took my meter readings, made the exposure and rushed back to the lab to develop the film.

When the negative came out of the fixer, I tuned on the light to view the sheet film. It was beautiful negative and I knew it would make a fine print. It was terribly exciting.

Finally photographically, I had crossed over. I made the jump from being a technician to a photographer.

Yeah, my most memorable moment for sure. A fine day.

Click On Image To Enlarge

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Photographic Instincts

There's that time when learning to play the guitar that you stop looking at your fingers and just play. 

Then, you reach another plateau when you stop learning songs to play, and simply 
create your own music.

Photography is no different. 

There is a myriad of learning levels and acceptance of instincts. 
When you reach that point, making visual music becomes a natural experience.

From a style standpoint, it only matters that it matters to you.