I’ve been continue to work on photographing the seashore and in particular rocks in the water. As summer approaches sunrise gets ever earlier, making it increasing unlikely that I will hit my self imposed goal of being on location an hour before sunrise. I enjoy being on location while it is still dark and waiting for the right light. On this particular morning I was on location 30 minutes before sunrise, with it being almost sunrise by the time I got a shot that I liked. Once the sun appeared on the horizon I felt it was too bright to make the photographs that I was looking to make and I headed for home and breakfast.
It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of Aaron Siskind and his photographs of peeling posters and peeling paint. This style of abstract seem to have penetrated the psyche of many photographers myself included. Wanting to look for something different, I’ve begun a series of photographs of old painted signs, many of which are directly onto the brick of the building. I have walked by the relatively non-descript building that was the subject for the image above many times before I noticed the faded signs. My only explanation is that the building had been white washed, which when removed revealed the much older signage below. I’m now on the hunt for more of these old painted signs, so let me know if you know of one.
I continue to explore the coast and harbors close to home looking for different viewpoints. On this particular morning I was on location while it was still dark and as the sky began to lighten ventured beyond the warmth of my car. Overnight there had been a light dusting of snow, most of which had been blown away but some remained, to provide highlights to the buildings and rocks. Unfortunately what I took for snow on the breakwater was actually a layer of ice. Waves washing up and over the breakwater had left the breakwater with a thin, but very slick coating of ice. My first confident step onto the ‘snow’ put me very quickly on my back. Fortunately neither me nor my gear were worse for wear and I was able to make this image. I was however much more careful as I returned to the car!
When I was on vacation with my family last summer I came across these interesting pilings at the beach. I felt that this would make a good subject for a photograph but didn’t have an opportunity to return to make the photograph I had imagined. Fortunately we were back in the area recently and I made the most of the one morning that we had clear skies to make the image above.
I have family that live out on the end of long island. The most relaxing way of getting to the end of long island from home, just south of Boston, involves taking the ferry from New London to Orient Point. The ferry ride breaks up the trip nicely and gives me an opportunity to stretch my legs. I always debate whether I should bring my camera along with me on the ferry ride, that is, not leave it in the car and I generally do opt to take it with me unless it is raining. On this occasion I had stopped in Greenport on the way to Orient Point to poke around the docks looking for anything interesting without any success. As I approached the ferry dock it looked like rain and so I was very close to leaving my camera in the car. At the last moment I decided not to. As I waited for the ferry to leave, the storm that had been brewing blew through. On the leading edge were the tremendous cloud formations that I spent the next 10 minutes photographing. Never have I been happier to have my camera with me!
I think that the joys and frustrations that we experience as photographers are common to many of the creative arts, whether they are the visual arts, literature or music. Having said that, it is remarkable how many photographers have a background in music. Ansel Adams had intended on becoming a concert pianist before photography interceded. He must have been drawing on this background when he said that ‘The Negative is the score, The Print is the performance’. I’ve heard or read this quote a number of times and when I came across it most recently I wondered how far this musical metaphor could be pushed.
If we stay with Ansel for a moment, he also said that 12 masterpieces in a year would be a good crop. This would be similar to a rock band or recording artist coming up with a new album in a year. Of course to get to that new album the band may have tried out a few new songs with the audience on their last tour (similar to how we get feedback on comments by posting on Flickr, Blogs or other websites) before secluding themselves in a recording studio to come up with the final album.
The process of recording the album would then start by weeding out the songs that have been written with the album in mind that are either weak or that don’t fit well with the other keepers. This is very much akin to the process that one might go through to develop a strong new portfolio. To do that we review collections of our images to ensure that the images all support the portfolio theme and are of equal quality.
Our fictional band aren’t in the studio alone, they are working with a producer. The role of the producer can vary, but at best the producer is the there to make sure that the band come up with the best album that the band is capable of producing. For many of us this role is played by a mentor, but could also be from feedback we get from gallery owners or show juries.
The ability to come up with songs of any worth at all is underscored by commitment to practice. It’s expected that musicians will practice everyday for a few hours, whether it’s scales, riffs or a whole new song. So how do you practice your photography? We should work with our cameras until we understand every function inside and out, so that we can change any function of the camera without taking our eye from the viewfinder. This only comes through regular use – daily practice. So get all your gear out and play with it!
A number of issues have been limiting my ability to get out and photograph – principal among these has been the fact that the weather has been shocking recently. While this can result in very dramatic light it can also mean no obvious sunrises, grey skies and flat light. My response to this has been to find subjects around the house that I can work on. I’ve started making a series of photographs of things that I find when I’m at the beach – ‘Beach Artifacts’. The image here is the first of these, a pair of starfish that had washed up after the recent storms that passed through the area.