Black and White: 2014

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I was pleased to find out recently that the image above ‘After the Storm’ was selected to be included in the on-line annex portion of the Black and White: 2014 exhibition at the Black Box Gallery in Portland. The show opens Friday Sept 5, but images are up on the web now.

This is one of those images that almost never was. There are times when I ‘see’ images that I have to make even though they don’t fit follow the ‘rules’ of photography. In fact, depending on how quick or slow I am there is an internal battle that happens prior to taking the photograph that argues whether this image is interesting and why and whether I should even bother. If I’m fast enough I just take the shot and move on. If I’m too slow, fiddling around with a tripod, getting the right lens etc. there’s time for the doubts to start to take hold. With time, I’ve learned to listen to the doubts, acknowledge them and then take the shot anyway.

Friday Inspiration: The Year in Review

I’ve been enjoying looking at other photographers ‘best of 2013’ selections and thought that I’d share a few of my favorite collections here. What are your favorites?

John Paul Caponigro: My Top 12 Images Of 2013

Constellation VI

Michael Frye: 2013: My Top Ten Images

Waves in the Merced River near Happy Isles, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

William Neil: My Favorite Photographs of 2013

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Harold Davis: My best of 2013

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Black & White – Winter Trees

I’m still futzing with making black and white photographs. The winter trees above taken during a rare (at least for this winter) snow flurry is my latest effort at black and white. A little easier to visualize this time since the subject is ostensibly black and white. Comments as always appreciated.

I’m not exactly comfortable with the try it and see approach, although that will surely work, and so I have been looking around for tools and resources that could help educate and train my eye. The book ‘Seeing in Black and White‘ by Alan Gilchrist seems like it would give a solid theoretical understanding and was recommended by Vincent Versace in his recent interview with Ibarionex Perello on The Candid Frame. I’m also looking forward to seeing Vincent Versace’s book on black and white conversion techniques, ‘From Oz to Kansas: Almost Every Black and White Technique Known to Man‘, which should appear in the next couple of months.

The tool that I’ve found that looks intriguing is the Tiffen #1 B&W Viewing filter, essentially a Kodak Wratten 90 monochromatic viewing Filter but in a more user friendly holder. Apparently it is able to remove the color and gives a monochromatic view more like that which would be captured by black and white film. Sounds intriguing and I can’t wait to give it a go. Read more about the filter in an excellent article by George DeWolfe here.

Friday Inspiration: Cig Harvey

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 .

In Service of the Print

Winter Trees

‘Not every printer is a great photographer, every great photographer is a great printer’

Ansel Adams

I came across the quote attributed to Ansel Adams a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t help but wonder whether this is really true today. There have been seismic changes in photography and technology in the last 10 or so years – the shift to digital, decent cameras in most mobile phones, great tablet devices and on and on – that makes me wonder what was true when Ansel Adams made his comment is still true today.

How many people feel the need to print? Sure not people who are stock photographers. They deliver their content to the stock agencies digitally and it is further distributed digitally. Wedding photographers? Again another example of a group that are focused on high quality with high productivity, that would most likely today have some if not all content delivered digitally with the remaining photographs and associated wedding books printed by specialty print services. Editorial photographers, similar story – digital delivery to their editors.

Does this mean that these photographers are not ‘great’? Of course not. The successful photographers in these fields have exacting standards that when coupled with creativity and a capacity for hard work has been the foundation for their success.

So is Ansel’s comment still relevant today? I think so but we should modify it slightly – ‘Every great fine art photographer is a great printer’.

It’s never been easier to print your own photographs. Prices of really good ink jet prints have dropped precipitously and are well within the range of most serious amateurs. There are a huge range of ‘substrates’, papers and other specialty surfaces, available for printing. The standard printer drivers and paper profiles give good results without needing tweaking. Finally there are a tremendous range of resources available to help you along the way – George DeWolfe’s Book ‘George DeWolfe’s Digital Photography Fine Print Workshop‘ is one that I would particularly recommend. It’s quite possible then for us all to make good prints and with a commitment to the craft even some great ones.

Winter Lane

I was starting to think, hoping really, that this was going to be the last image of snow I was going to get this year and then we had more snow showers earlier this week.  Natures way of telling us that there’s still a chance of more snow yet!  I would love to visit Cades Cove in the Smokies and make my own image of the lane that I’ve seen done by so many other people.  Unfortunately my on-going commitments means that it will be a while before I get to do that trip.  Instead I continue to look for opportunities closer to home.  I noticed this lane when I was out hiking one weekend and I’ve been returning to make a series of photographs from this spot that show the changes with the seasons.  I now have two of Winter and will work in the coming year to complete the set with good images of Spring, Summer and Fall.

Scituate Sunset

Sometimes I head out with a clear idea of the photograph I want to capture.  Other times, I don’t have a good idea.  On those days I’m not sure why I even head out of the door, especially with the kind of weather we’ve had here in New England in recent weeks.

After finishing up at the conservation area, and getting the image that I showed last week, I headed over to Scituate harbor.  I’m not sure what I was expecting – the sky was white, heavy with more snow, and so I had low expectations of making any photographs.  Nevertheless I drove over to the harbor to take a look.  I was surprised when I got there.  The sky had begun to light up and was drawing quite a crowd.  Although the photograph doesn’t quite do the scene justice it looked as though someone was shooting a giant laser into the sky.  Pretty amazing!

Winter Stream

After one of the recent storms I headed out to one of the local conservation areas to see what I could find.  I had been photographing one of the streams in this area before the snow and wanted to see how the snow had changed things.  Increasingly I find with areas that I’ve been to often that I have an image in mind that I want to take.  In this case I’d photographed a series of rocks in a stream before the snow storm and wanted to make some similar images with the rocks covered with snow.  The images I made were okay but as I moved on and continued to photograph the image posted above revealed itself.  This shot captured much my feeling of the couple of hours that I spent tramping around in the snow than my planned images did.  I’m pleased that I continued to explore and photograph after I came what I was after.  A reminder that regardless of what my preconceptions are, its always worth remaining open for other opportunities.