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!