I’m back home after a cool and crazy time in Missoula last week. Hanging my show ‘Going Coastal’ went relatively smoothly, Alyssa and Melanie from RMSP were a huge help in getting the prints up on the wall and in dealing with the problems that cropped up along the way. I even got my name on the window out front. The RMSP staff are terrific and I’m looking forward to having a chance to go back later in the summer.
My first experience of Cig Harvey‘s photography was the image above which ran as a cover for Maine Magazine. It made me pick up the magazine, which I absolutely love, but also gave me an reason to dig deeper into Cig Harvey’s work.
Cig Harvey was born and raised in Devon in the South of England and now divides her time between Boston and the coast of Maine. Her personal work seems to me to tell the stories of what’s going on in her life and includes a number of self-portraits, many of which show case her collection of vintage dresses.
To hear Cig speaking about her work, process and inspiration check out this video .
It’s almost peak fall color here in Massachusetts. I had grand intentions this year of talking some trips North to Vermont this year but I have missed my window of opportunity to do that. There are a number of websites that will either give you a prediction of the color or that use a network of spotters to give a more accurate representation of what the current status is. Of course if you live in New England like I am fortunate enough to do then these websites are useful, not so much if you booked your trip a year in an advance.
Okay so where to go? Not sure how you prepare for trips to new locations but I usually will use a combination of on-line searching with digging through books and if I can get some local knowledge so much the better. Jerry and Macy Monkman put together a book a few years ago called ‘The Colors of Fall: A Celebration of New England’s Foliage Season‘ that I quite enjoyed. They then followed that up with ‘The Colors of Fall Road Trip Guide’ which gives you a range potential New England trips, from ones that might be familiar such as the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park to what might be less expected such as Rhode Island Beaches and Mansions. While the book highlights good vantage points for leaf peeping it’s not specifically targeted towards photographers.
Countryman press have a range of books for the photographer that I’ve mentioned here before and that I’ve found generally useful. The Photographer’s Guide to Vermont and The Photographer’s Guide to the Maine Coast both by David Middleton are good resources when planning trips at anytime of the year to either Maine or Vermont but especially during fall.
While it looks like I’ve missed my opportunity to travel north this fall I’m making the most of the color nearer to home.
My copy of the catalog for Paul Caponigro’s exhibition ‘The Hidden Presence of Places‘ arrived this week. I was of course familar with, and particularly like, ‘Running White Deer‘ and aware of some of his still life studies but otherwise largely ignorant of much of his work. This was an attempt to fill in that gap in my knowledge. I was very pleased that I did. The collection in ‘The Hidden Presence of Places‘ has a number of images that resonated with me – quiet and contemplative, exactly what I am striving towards. The essay that leads off the book has a number of references, many of which I will add to my library over the next few months. In the meantime I’m going to study the images in the catalog and plan a visit to the exhibition at the Farnsworth Gallery in Rockland before it closes Oct. 9th.
I have had a lot of fun so far this year looking for ways that I can bring a sense of motion into my photographs. To do that I have been experimenting with moving the camera. One series of experiments involved panning with a slow shutter speed, both vertically and horizontally, a variety of different subjects. Some of the results I quite liked and I will continue on with those ideas. On the day I took the photograph above I was headed back to the car after a morning shoot. Although I wasn’t ready to be done, the sun was too bright for the kind of photographs that I prefer. As I walked back down the road I noticed a patch of rocks that had interesting colors. The straight shots I made were okay, but wanting something different I tried both panning the camera and rotating the camera. The result of rotating the camera is shown above.
I find Eliot Porter’s style of intimate landscapes particularly powerful. I recently came across the video below, ‘A Look Back’, a documentary put together shortly after his death in 1990. I quite enjoyed it and hope that you will too. You can find out more about Eliot Porter on the web here. Many of his books can be found used on amazon.com and are well worth looking out for.
It always surprises me that summer days along the coast can start off very foggy. This is typical of summers in Maine but also happens often in long island sound. Perhaps you already understand the phenomenon, I didn’t but after getting up at 3 am on a couple of mornings to find myself socked in with fog I thought that I ought to understand how to predict whether the morning will be foggy or not. This link seems to provide the answer.
Of course we can’t control the weather and with limited time sometimes you just have to roll with what nature serves up. This is exactly what I did on this morning. I was at a new beach and although I had a general sense of where I was going wasn’t 100% sure. I could hear the ocean but couldn’t see it. I headed along the beach until I found the rocks that I’d seen using google maps. Once on location I played around for a while and made the image below.
I have been playing with the interaction of still and moving, generally trying to combine the two into a single photograph. When I saw these trees together on my way down to the beach recently I wondered whether I could build on my interest in motion to create an image that I was happy with. I took a lot of frames but was happiest with the one above. I may try more of these!
In his book ‘Welcome to Oz’ Vincent Versace says that practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent! Perfect practice makes perfect. This should be familiar to anyone who’s learned how to play a musical instrument. Practice builds muscle memory that can be hard to unlearn once established.
I think that the same can be said for patterns of behaviors, the rhythms and routines of life. It’s certainly true for the way that I approach photography and change is hard to do.
The Maine Islands workshop that recently attended with John Paul Caponigro marks another step in my evolution as a photographer. I’ve heard many times before the importance of ‘working the scene’ and frankly thought that I was but now realize that I’m not working hard enough. The challenge that I’ve set myself is to go ahead and make the obvious image but then make something more creative and keep pushing until I have 6-10 distinct images. Easier said than done! Even though I set out with the intention of doing that what I ended up with was not too much of a departure from what I’d done before. Breaking old patterns of behavior is tough but certainly worth the effort.
I continue to work through the images I captured at John Paul Caponigro’s Maine Islands workshop. I have plenty to work on!
One of the topics for discussion was the use of graduated neutral density filters. With a well captured image the tools available in Lightroom and Photoshop make this type of filter redundant. However, I’m not ready to give up my filters just yet. I will usually take a number of images with and without the filters and see which I like the best. Even with the expensive ‘neutral’ filters from Singh-Ray, under the conditions I usually photograph I get a pronounced color cast. Sometimes I like it, sometimes not so much. The image above was taken without a filter and then processed in photoshop to add a digital neutral density filter.