Monday, December 27, 2010

This post is an interesting one for me.  I've not had the opportunity to do any new work for the past couple of months, and I have a huge backlog of printing to do so I'm not overly motivated to generate yet more negatives.  But, I also feel a nagging obligation to keep up with this blog at least once a month (though I'd prefer once a week), and, as I have nothing new to offer, I looked into my negative files for something old, but never before published here.

I found the image below.  What's special about it is that it was made on the very first day I used my spanking new Pentax 67 in April of 1998. I kept very few records on the negative file then, because I had not yet discovered the Sharpie pen that now annotates every filing.  I can barely make out the "4/98" that I wrote with a ballpoint pen at the time.  

The other thing that makes that day extremely memorable is that I either lost or had stolen the new 135mm lens that I had set on the ground a short distance behind me as I was using the camera, and only discovered later that day was no longer in my improvised camera pack.  It was an $800 or so loss that was a major hit at the time.  Ever since, I have always looked around at least three times for anything I may have dropped or overlooked to repack, and been hyper aware of other people near me when I'm working. 

And finally, I kinda like this photograph, Photoshopped now in emulation of my current printing style, because it is an early indication of the way I've come to "see" images, and because it's chaotic enough to emulate my life at the moment...joyous and exuberant, but tangled and knotty at the same time.  (a broad smile attends that statement!)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting out to photograph in this very busy time of year is difficult enough, but when I do, making a worthwhile image is still as difficult as it has always been.  But, I'm happy with the two 'graphs below.  They are of a willow tree I've come back to many times that sits at the edge of  little parking lot on Round Lake in Monroe, NY.  I've tried to interpret it in various seasons and weather, and these are yet another attempt.  Willows are the last to lose their leaves, and their vivid color when all around them are in their skeletal winter guise, is always exciting. 

I've been rereading Robert Adams wonderful little book on beauty in photography, and am again reassured that there's nothing new that matters except what is new for the artist.  That that work makes a difference in the world of art at large is irrelevant. That it makes a difference in my life is essential. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So often when driving through Harriman State Park I'm frustrated that it's illegal (and even impossible) to stop the car to make a photograph when I come across something camera worthy .  So this post and the previous one are evidence that I was willing to hike to what I was interested in, and burn some film in a several of those places.  As I stood behind some low hanging branches of a brilliantly yellow leafed tree, I was fascinated by the delicacy of the supporting twigs, and the leaf's network of capillaries.

What interests me now is how to print this...large (10x10 or bigger), or rather small (5x5 perhaps).  There are several photographers who are making their images part of a greater presentation that is integral to the work.  In other words, the frame (either hand made to suit, or a collected antique) is more than a simple holder, and becomes an essential complement to the image.  From what I've seen, it works incredibly well sometimes, and rather poorly in other instances.  It's somewhat of an art in itself, and I intend to pursue it, and see where it leads. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn in New York is a song, and a splendid experience.  The "other" state park I often visit and have regularly photographed is Harriman SP...a large and gorgeous tract that includes a segment of the Appalachian Trail.  On Columbus Day, I spent some very pleasurable time walking a hilly, quiet road there schlepping the P67 kit and a pod.  It was both good exercise, and a rich visual feast.  Some leaves were in mid-turning, while others were in their full fall splendor.  The air was neither warm, nor crisp, but luxuriously comfortable, and dry enough that the well-earned sweat of climbing steep sections of the road evaporated quickly. 

It's always a conundrum deciding where the two dimensional, graphic scene that can actually be photographed parts from the total visceral experience that "being there" inspires.  Only a great deal of experience can inform that judgment.  I think the photographs below manage that well, but I'll assess them again later when a good deal more time has elapsed. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh my!  I see it's been a while since I've posted here. If you maintain a blog, and you're halfway conscientious, you're inevitably going to feel responsible to keep it current, or suffer the ignominious guilt of regarding yourself as an irredeemable slacker.  I, therefore, confess to wanting to be conscientious while realizing that my slackfulness is worthy of considerable guilt.  Mea bloody damn culpa!  (I don't think Sister meant me to say it that way ;-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vacations for me have usually just been time away from work.  But, every year, if we're lucky and if only for a few days, we spend some time in a special place that's memorable.  My trip to Jacksonville this summer was enriched by several days at a hotel at the ocean...and I mean AT THE OCEAN!! ... as in fronting on the beach.  I couldn't get enough of it. I'd get up in the middle of the night and go to the slider to the deck and just stare at whatever was out there. We never closed the drape (3rd floor room made privacy possible) and never stopped staring out on the ocean when we weren't actually walking on the beach or flopping around in the water.  So, not surprisingly, here are a couple of photographs from that balcony of a morning sunrise.  I had to wait for quite a while for the camera to adapt to the warm, humid air from having spent the night in the air conditioned dryer air of our room, but that wasn't a problem. Coffee, and a magnificent view made the wait not only tolerable, but a real pleasure.

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's really nice to get back here after a couple of months hiatus.  My cello work during July consumed the entire weekday, and I was utterly disinterested in anything but prodigious laziness on the weekends.  That means that I had not exposed a single frame of film for quite a while.  But, my brief annual sojourn to Florida last week was energizing enough to finally do some work with the camera.

The Florida landscape is so enormously different than that of the Hudson Valley that I won't really begin to know what's significant from what's just novel to me until I have lived there eventually in retirement for a while.  Still, live oaks, moss, and palmettos are visually so seductive that I couldn't resist.  I may look back on these images some years from now and wonder why I bothered with what then will be a commonplace subject, but for now, I can't get enough of this stuff. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The day job has been very stressful and time consuming of late (concerts, concerts, concerts), so there's not been much time or energy left for photography during the week.  Fortunately,  the same super early schedule that I need for work bleeds over into the weekend, which has enabled me to get up really, really early (before 5AM) to go out with the camera.  Just this past weekend I decided that it was time to revisit some familiar places with a different approach.  I almost never use wide angle lenses, but it was a revelation to do so in the two places below that I've photographed before....a lot!  I think I've been reluctant to allow so much subject onto the film because I don't usually "see" that way, but I'll think differently about it now.  For those who are interested, I used a 55mm lens on the P67.   Now I have to figure out how I can eventually acquire a similar field of view lens for the 4x5.  Hmmmmm........

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I finally got out with the camera this past weekend.  I stopped on Canning Road where I have found so many pictures I really like that the place seems never to disappoint me.  It runs parallel to, and just a few yards from a section of the Wallkill River that offers endlessly interesting and different subjects, or different light on the same subjects I've photographed before.  I would have used the 4x5, but of late I've gotten so sick of dust on the film that become laborious to remove spots on the negative, that I almost always now use the P67, and did so here.  Still, the view camera would have been more satisfying to use.  It always slows me down...makes me look, and think,.and contemplate, and only then make the photograph that has ripened in my imagination.  Nonetheless, the lesson is learned and I insist to myself that there's no hurry, no need to burn meaningless, ill considered frames of film. 

I am often amused at the photographers who travel all over the world, but consistently return with the same photographs they could have made much closer to home because that's their "style".  I'm so sure I'd do exactly the same thing that I no longer feel any temptation to wander away for the sole purpose of making photographs.  Rather, I'd just love to visit the wonderful places that are currently so popular like Iceland (now with its' volcano), Antarctica, Greenland, and so on.  I'd probably look for the kind of photograph I am drawn to make, but I'd be thrilled to make it in one of those fascinating places. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It's important to remember that "old" work isn't obsolete, nor less worthy than new work.  In fact, old work, unless it's utterly incompetent, is evidence of  one's evolving vision, and may be instinctively even better because it is a testament to that moment in which it is newly discovered.  That aside, here's a photograph I made at least four or more years ago that I've not printed nor published on this blog before.  I'm posting it because I like it...nothing more or less that that. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

There hasn't been much time for photography of late, but there's just been no way I could go on indefinitely without burning some film.  So, last week, I took myself to the part of Harriman Park that I enjoy walking in, and photographing.  Most of the images from this place have been one's I've not kept in my portfolio.  They've not passed the test of months or years as being worth keeping.  But, they've been very, very important as lessons learned.  Perhaps I go there with the unquenchable hope that I'll find the right conjunction of light, subject, mood and satisfying composition a challenge one makes for oneself.  So...below is just such a photograph.  I've no idea whether I'll still like it a month from now, or be sorry I posted it here, but at the moment I like it.  It literally reached out to me (and that's the name of the negative scan of it: "reaching out").  It's fun to find a subject that will photograph with inherent contrast and dynamic form without having to do anything more than discover it, examine it, walk around it a lot, frame it to suit your sensibility, and make the photograph. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Our show is now up on the walls at the Wallkill River Gallery in Montgomery, NY.  It took a lot of time to hang, but it looks really good.  There are a few more than 30 works to view...about an equal number of paintings and photographs.  All are invited to our opening on Saturday, April 10th from 5 to 7PM at the gallery.  There will be food and wine, but no dancing girls, or ritual sacrifices...sorry! ;-)   We're going to relax for a little while and get some chores done that went begging while preparing for the show, but we will be back making more artwork soon.  As rewarding as a show can be, it's really more satisfying to create the next piece. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Here's one more photograph from this past February.  It was made after the storm that hit the week before THE STORM that clobbered us on the 26th.  There is a tiny little plot of man made land that extends maybe 25 feet or so into Walton Lake. It's fenced off, and used during warm weather by the several families that built it.  In its' season there is lush grass kept in finely manicured condition, but in winter there's not much to see except for the fence.  This image also is intended to bid a not so fond adieu to what's been a pretty nasty winter.  At least I did manage to get some photographs I like out of the season. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The past week has been another wet one, but this time with copious rain and wind.  At least I didn't have to shovel any of it, and it did a wonderful job of melting the shoulder high snow I cleared that we were visited with just the previous week.  I don't know what's next...maybe locusts?

The nor'easter rain and wind storm was much more devastating to Westchester County where I work, than to Orange County where I live, so much so that my workplace was closed from Monday 'til today (we're back tomorrow), so I had the last two beautiful days to get out with the camera, and record some of the wonderful and unusual effects of the high water where the Wallkill River had crested many feet over it's usual high water mark.  For those for whom this was NOT a beautiful event, I'm sympathetic, but I'm also glad I could make these photographs that will last far longer than the errant flood.   The waters are receding, the fallen trees are being cleared, and we are quickly returning to whatever passes for normal around here.

The photographs below were made during this very welcome hiatus from the usual grind. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Here's one more from last week's storm.  We live at the top of a hill that, now that I've gotten to drive around a week later to see where else got what, is clearly more heavily burdened with snow than anywhere else in this vicinity.  So many other places not that far away have returned to wintertime drab, their snowy coat melted and evaporated away, but we here on the hill still have over a foot of the stuff.  The next few days are predicted to be very mild and sunny, so I look forward to seeing dirt and grass in the near future.  Till then this post adds one more scene from behind our house that will probably look reaaaaalllly appealing sometime this summer when it's baking outside. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We've just gone through a helluva week with snow.  It's been almost intimidating in its depth (about 3 feet) in terms of the difficulty involved in clearing enough of it to be able to use a car, or even walk up the driveway to the street.  Still, when not worrying about when the electric will come back on, or the plow will stop building a wall at the top of the driveway, it has been a really a beautiful event.  The two pictures below were made after a few hours of work trying to deal with it.  I was happy to see the snow, then, in a very different way.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

Today is the 108th anniversary of Ansel Adams' birth, and I shall absolutely (though not with Absolut) hoist a glass to this towering and troubling icon of 20th century photography.  Why troubling?... because, during decades of cataclysmic world turmoil and disaster, Adams chose to primarily  record and interpret the majestic, the grand, the intimate, and the serene. (although his Myanmar series of the lives or interred Japanese Americans is a significant exception). So what?  Well, there are many who feel that that was an abdication of a photographer's  perceived responsibility to record the depth of the world's abyss.  I disagree.  There were  wonderful photographers who did that wonderfully. All are not called to do the same thing.  To offer what Adams offered was to expand beyond the tragic reality of the moment and invite the viewer into a more uplifting, tranquil and peaceful world.  Bringing those now iconic scenes to  the people's attention was significantly instrumental in furthering the public and governmental will to preserve and protect them.  Over the course of decades, that contribution has becaome as important as that of any of the American photographers who recorded the depths of the 20th century's tragedies from its wars to the FSA's record of the depression and its aftermath.

Adams is also responsible for nudging photography into the mainstream of  "art". Others, like Stieglitz, Steichen, and the Westons did that as well, but without the mass appeal that Adams was able to command.  Adams wrote articles in mainstream photo magazines, and proffered suggestions for better photography to a public eager to be informed.  Other 20th century icons did far less beyond production of  their work.  Hence, Adams' work has become a touchstone for what most people think of as a black and white photograph.  (Try passing a poster and frame shop in any mall and not see AA's work prominently displayed.)  Many still place their tripods on Ansel's marks, but very, very few reinvent what he had the marvelous vision to "see".!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Just south of the city of Newburgh, New York is a park interestingly called "Unique Area".  It is a rather small riverside tract that sits on the western edge of the Hudson, but also includes a wide swath from the highway to the shore.  We stopped by there yesterday (February 13th) to explore it again as we'd not visited it in the dead of winter before.  The river was engulfed in a significant amount of ice with only a center channel completely open to shipping.  The ice we encountered was noisy!  I'd be engrossed with the camera and be startled to hear what sounded like someone loudly approaching me, but I'd immediately realize it was just the ice groaning and cracking from the eternally active river water forcing it to yield. 

It's also amusing to me that I've railed a bit at the cliche minimalist photographs of "sticks in the water" on several internet sites, and here I am posting one of mine.  But, in my defense, it's different enough to not be a clone of another person's image.  There probably isn't anything one can find in the real world that hasn't been successfully photographed, but it's important to be certain that one's take on each subject is genuinely one's own. 



Friday, February 12, 2010

The Orange County Land Trust is a local organization that is determined to save our beautiful woodlands and open spaces from the ravages of developers.  It has raised the necessary funds to purchase tracts of unspoiled land for our enjoyment and that of future generations.  Some of it may be minimally developed for athletic recreation (an inevitable consequence of bending to the common weal), but it will nonetheless be public and undeveloped in any significant way.  This tree and rent in the land is a feature of a very prominent piece of one of these tracts near Sugarloaf, the "Village of Craftsmen" (as they bill themselves). It has always appealed to me in countless drive-bys, and I finally succumbed to a chance to park and photograph it.  I used the Shen-Hao for this with, I think, the 250mm Fujinon. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

I've been overwhelmed of late by a greatly expanded circle of Facebook photographer "friends".  Some of these folk are wonderfully creative makers of original images, but a large number of them are utterly lame "Kennabes" who don't seem to have an original idea for an image in their shrunken little heads.  BUT, who can resist the zeitgeist!  Here's a photograph I posted a few years ago that I've rethought and remade.  It's now an obligatory square (that I really do prefer), and toned a bit.  Ansel Adams, Edward, and Brettt Weston, and a host of other icons of the 20th century influenced a multitude of photographers who emulated these masters to a faretheewell.  Michael Kenna has inherited that mantle, as has the aesthetic of minimalism. I'm not a fearless, and "damn the torpedoes" kind of "artist", so I won't be blazing any new trails, but I'll be damned if I'll post a "sticks in the long exposure water" photograph even if I'm eventually senile.  (I'm grinning here...don't get upset!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Here is another photograph from January 31st's drive through our rural Orange County countryside.  It used to be really difficult to just stop somewhere and make a photograph, but over the years I've come to enjoy "deep looking" that can result in something worthwhile from even the most unlikely place.  We were in bright sunlight and open territory, but after a while I thought this image was interesting.  There's a wonderful "buzz" that accompanies the recognition of something I want to photograph that makes it exciting.  Without that sensation, it would be a tedious chore to make art of any kind.  It needn't be "gold", but it has to be vital.

Monday, February 1, 2010

It has been a while, hasn't it?  Well, there've been some big time winter illnesses, and a raft of other commitments that have hijacked my time from photography, so...those are the excuses/reasons/explanations for a month's interval between posts.  Going forward, I'll be spending most of my photography time printing for our April show at the Wallkill River Gallery, so there probably will not be too much new stuff.  

However, here are a couple of images I took yesterday (January 31st) during an afternoon's car ride in our Orange County countryside with my wife.  She used her digicam for painting reference photographs, while I used the P67 for these and the rest of one roll of Delta 100.  These two were made in the little memorial park in Craigsville that I've referred to elsewhere on this blog..  I never tire of visiting this gem of a place of solitude. Its' dedicatee is very well served!



Saturday, January 2, 2010

Well, now it is REALLY the time of year when I'd rather be in the darkroom than outside with the camera.  Out there the windchill is in the teens, the light is dull, and the old snow is visually boring.  However, the darkroom is warm, and snug, and it's time to make prints that I can hold in my hand instead of looking at on a computer screen.  Actually, I've been in the darkroom a lot during the last two weeks printing for a group show at the Wallkill River Gallery, but now that work is done, and it's been fun to look through old negatives to see what I may have overlooked in the past, or decided I now like better than I did when they were made.  Below is a scan of one of those negatives that I've never printed, but often remembered as being worth some time working with, so I'll probably print it tomorrow.  It may go well with some of the Cape Cod photographs I've been printing even though it's from Fernandina, Florida eight years ago.  One more reason I love film is that I might have long since either lost, deleted, or corrupted this if it were a digital file due to my own carelessness. Again, to those of you who accumulate pixels, be diligent with your data...back it up, and keep the storage medium current.