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This blog was begun on January 29, 2011. The views expressed, unless otherwise credited, are those of the author, David Halpern, who is always willing to hear contrary views. These views are also subject to change as technology improves or other new information becomes available. Questions and comments are welcome. Click to Email Me
 

 Archived Blog Postings - January 29 through March 31, 2011
 

March 31, 2011: Photographing animals in zoos

On Sunday, my wife and I were chasing a five-year-old with a short attention span through the Houston Zoo. I had a camera with me, of course, strictly for the purpose of photographing his reactions. (The purist in me simply doesn't want to think about making pictures of animals in captivity.)

But, now and then, opportunities present themselves and you see things that just demand that you make a few animal shots.even though I would never use them for stock...well almost never.

The picture below, entitled "Just Playing," was made in the Tulsa Zoo last year. Notice that I made no attempt to hide the fact that it was made in a zoo. And, okay...I admit that I made the one of the meerkat on Sunday in Houston. It was just too cute and tempting.

 
 
 
Artist, Peter Holbrook responded to my posting of March 23, Scroll down to see his remarks in context.
 

March 25, 2011:

When traveling by air, what do you do when luggage weight restrictions require you to leave equipment behind?

When I worked commercially, I often traveled with several heavy cases of cameras and lighting equipment. I worked out the logistics and the cost was covered by my clients. If we had to go to a location that was outside the commercial air lanes, we chartered planes as necessary, but we took everything we thought we would need to complete the job.

These days, I travel for myself. I fly commercial and have to abide by carrier restrictions. Sometimes, when necessary, I pack equipment and ship it ahead to my destination. But, when I recently traveled to South America and flew from Buenos Aires to Iguaçu Falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil, I was told I would only be allowed to take 33 pounds in my luggage, including carry-ons. And some time ago, when I traveled in a light plane from Quito, Ecuador to a dirt airstrip in rain forests near the Peruvian border, I had to step on a scale with all my clothing and equipment. A couple of years ago, I flew to a remote rainforest location on the coast of Costa Rica and was allowed to carry only 25 pounds. Short of chartering another plane to carry your gear, what can you do? There are places UPS and FedEx don't go. What's more, sometimes you just don't have time to risk getting to a location without your equipment. And even if you did have time, there's no agent waiting on the dirt airstrip to assure you that "Your luggage will probably arrive on the next flight."

I'm thankful for reliable DSLR camera equipment, zoom lenses and not having to carry cases of film and film holders. (I used to travel with large format cameras.) Still, when I have to fly with no more than 25 or 33 pounds, I carry clothing that I can wash in a sink and the rest of the allowable weight is given to my photographic gear. I carry a small tripod (I still consider that essential, even with image stabilization lenses) a charger for my batteries, at least one extra battery, the essential lenses (based on what I know about the subjects I'm photographing) a dry bag, which sometimes takes the place of a camera case, wraps for the fragile gear, and several compact flash cards. If I need flash, I carry the smallest unit possible. If you have to download your images, a portable hard drive of some sort is desirable, but I will leave my laptop behind. I prefer to carry two camera bodies, but I have, on occasion, risked flying with only one. So far, I haven't had a camera failure (thank you Nikon). But, that gives me only a little peace of mind.

Of course, I'm not talking about leaving equipment at home when I'm going on a long trip. These weight restricted flights are always from a city or town where I can make arrangements with a hotel to store my other belongings until I return. The good news is that weight restrictions are usually just a temporary handicap, not part of the entire itinerary.

The way technology is advancing, I envision a day when I will be able to buy a pocket-size digital camera with a 36 megapixel sensor, optics as good as my current Nikon lenses and ISO sensitivity to permit shooting hand-held at night without flash. Yeah, I'm a dreamer, but if I told you what I didn't expect twenty years ago when I was imagining the future, you'd laugh. All that and more are currently available at several dealers I could name and available on-line.

I haven't even mentioned my worst experiences through the years. Want to share yours? I'm listening.

These two pictures show a plane, like the one that took us to the remote rainforest location in Costa Rica, landing on the dirt strip, and the baggage cart that took our "stuff" two miles down the beach to our camp. The luggage on the cart is actually from three planes.

 

Got to catch a flight to Houston...more blog postings after I return next week.

 

March 24, 2011: A philosophy for teaching

I teach because I thrive on the dialog--the visual dialog as well as the verbal exchange--and because I believe in encouraging talent.

Unless you have tried to teach, you may not have noticed how much we take for granted when communicating our ideas to each other. We fall into comfortable jargon and behavioral paradigms without questioning whether others are equally comfortable with them. And so teaching becomes, first of all, a communication challenge.

Students make me conscious of how much photographic terminology and methodology I take for granted after fifty plus years of image making. Explaining my art, my craft and its technology requires me to find a common ground--a language that each student will understand. It is useless to know how to do something if you cannot make someone else understand how it is done. The process is continually evolving, and the text you are reading is part of that process.

A second challenge to a teacher is to motivate. Here, photography instructors may have an advantage over teachers of English, mathematics or history. Especially in workshops, students enroll because they want to learn how to make pictures, not because of a curriculum requirement. In more formal institutional settings, when the course is required, photography's practical and creative nature tends to make students appear more involved.

Appearances, however, can deceive. When a student discovers that not all of photographic study is fun, motivating that person to immerse him/herself in the subject with appropriate intensity, may require all the skill and enthusiasm a teacher can muster.

A third challenge is to encourage individual expression. Once a student acquires an understanding of how photographic processes work, the role of the teacher is to help the individual use that knowledge to do more than simply "take pictures."

Before all else, a student must acquire an understanding of how photographic processes work. If you strive to be an artist, it is essential that you master the tools you have to use. There is enough in the visualization process that is left to luck and chance without handicapping yourself through a lack of technical knowledge and proficiency. Once you develop the technical skills so that you master the controllables, you can be free to create.

From On Photography: A practical guide for the student, David Halpern, copyright © 1995 (not currently in print)

On occasion, I've attended workshops conducted by other instructors and practicing professionals. These experiences have provided insight into how others think and approach their craft. Those I admire most are the instructors who are least self-indulgent, sharing their knowledge freely and taking extra time to advise and encourage struggling beginners. I remember a comment attributed to Ernst Haas , who said he never criticized a student's work too harshly, for how could he be certain that what he saw as a poor execution was not, in fact, a good beginning?

Learning flourishes best when there is dialog between instructor and student, when concepts are discussed and questioned and information is validated through clear understanding of background, terminology, content, and purpose. I never discourage a student who has the heart to put his work in front of me and ask for an opinion. All of us have something we want to say, even though we may still be developing the knowledge, skill, and vocabulary with which to say it. Though it requires patience and extra effort, an instructor should always try to find some element in a student's work to critique constructively.

From Pilgrim Eye, David Halpern, copyright © 2007 (pages 61-62)

 

March 23, 2011: My most difficult landscape subject?

I first visited the Grand Canyon in 1952, and in the years since I have been back several times, hiked it from rim to rim, and spent much time pondering its enormity and listening in the silence to my own physical responses to its majesty. For it is possible on a quiet evening, sitting alone and looking out into the vastness between the north and south rims, to listen to the beating of one's heart and the rush of blood coursing through one's veins. In all the years, however, I made no more than a handful of images that enabled me to relate my sense of the canyon to others.

Around a decade ago, I finally realized why I had been unable to convey the canyon's enormity or its serenity in a two dimensional still image. It was because the camera, unlike the painter's palette, is unable to render the distant shades of color in values that convey the sense of distance one feels in that setting. Painters have long known how to fade the colors of distant land forms in contrast to the bold hues of their foregrounds to communicate the feeling of distance. Many all of us know what it is like to look out across a vast prairie, see pastel mountains on the horizon, and capture that in a photograph, but the distance between the canyon rims is much shorter than the distance to the true horizon and that fading of color does not occur on a clear Arizona day.

When one visits the Grand Canyon, assuming one is sensitive enough to see it as more than a big hole in the ground, it is not unusual to be so emotionally overwhelmed and transfixed that the technical photographic issues are less than obvious.

Traditional photographers have long used the technique of "dodging and burning" to alter the values when making prints. This requires giving more exposure time to selected areas of the image to darken them, and giving less exposure to other areas to produce lighter values. The more complex an image, the more difficult this is to do, and maintaining consistency from print to print requires extraordinary patience and skill. I found that when "interpreting" the Grand Canyon the problem was made even more difficult because I wasn't only altering values from foreground to background, but I had to be mindful of shadings between the canyon rim and its floor.

Thankfully, digital manipulation affords us the opportunity to separate our images into layers and not only alter them selectively, but print them as many times as we wish with identical results.

The two images on the right demonstrate how I now deal with the foreground and background values to achieve the effects that the camera alone cannot, and that painters commonly attain.

Still, I envy those photographers who are able to spend enough time at the Grand Canyon to see it in every light and with all its atmospheric moods. Though I have camped on its rims a number of times, I have a lot of the Grand Canyon left to experience.

These photographs were both made from the north rim of the Grand canyon from points miles apart, though the distant "temple" is the same in both images. The background colors have been subdued to give the viewer a better sense of the distance between foreground and background.(Top: From Point Sublime looking east; Bottom: Looking north halfway to Point Sublime.)

 

Response from Peter Holbrook:

David-

Your blog entry of March 23 (today) was most pertinent to me. Yes, we painters use all kinds of "tricks" to create the sense of deep space - principally aerial perspective - that is giving color to the air between the viewer and distant objects. But there are problems with this solution. 1. At altitude where the air is thin you often have little moisture content to give the air its color 2. If you regularly use your greatest contrast and color saturation in the foreground, (usually the lower portion of a landscape) you get a bottom heavy composition. This defeats the objective (perfectly illustrated in your two shots near Point Sublime) of getting the eye to move upward into deeper space -which is the way we look at and comprehend canyons. One solution I use (in "Below Yovimpa Point") is to crop the image in a way that reduces deep space - giving it the flatness of a telephoto perspective. Another solution is to use a reversal of the color principal that places the most saturated colors in the foreground - that is to shoot very early or very late in the day, when the most saturated colors appear in the distance. For example a sheer vertical wall miles distant may appear to be brilliantly colored by the low sun. But if you were to closely approach it you'd find the actual rock rather colorless. Clouds gather color in the same way. This could turn into a long and complicated discussion, which your blog may well precipitate.

 
In a second email, Peter added the following. Thanks Peter.

The 'foreground problem' as landscape painters call it is of course a great deal more complicated than the 2 points and solutions I raised. One thing that distinguishes my paintings from most other landscapes is my use of focal perspective - implying distance by softening or hardening edges. Blurred backgrounds are fairly common, but I use highly blurred foregrounds in almost every painting. Cameras of course do this routinely, but only relative to the focal plane. Painters can violate this restriction by giving the viewer several focal planes at various distances in space. Check out "The Daughters of M. Boit" (if I have the correct title) by John Singer Sargent.

Peter Holbrook's wonderful landscape paintings have been confused for photographs when seen from a distance or when reproduced in small size like the one above. Photographers, however, are less likely to confuse them with photographs for some of the reasons Peter states in his commentary. DH

To see more of Peter's fine work, follow this link: http://peterholbrook.com/index.html

 

March 22, 2011:

Hal Gould to close Camera Obscura Gallery - it's not just Denver's loss

A few weeks ago, the news came to me in his newsletter. After 32 years of continuous operation at 1309 Bannock Street in Denver, showcasing the work of the world's finest photographers, providing opportunities to countless emerging talents, and vigorously advocating for the art of photography, Hal Gould announced that he was closing Camera Obscura Gallery when its final exhibition closes on April 30. Fittingly, after giving the limelight to others for so many years, that exhibition will be a retrospective of photography by Hal Gould and Loretta Young-Gautier, who has worked alongside Hal for the past eighteen years and is currently the Gallery's associate director.

I met Hal Gould only a few years after his gallery opened across the street from the Denver Art Museum, and from that time in the mid 1980's to the present, I have not failed to visit Camera Obscura whenever I was in Denver. I became accustomed to opening the door, hearing the bell ring and almost immediately seeing Hal standing on the stair landing above me, smiling. His office was on the Gallery's second floor, but he always came out to enthusiastically greet his guests whenever he heard the bell.

There was always something new on the gallery walls that I "needed to see." In addition to vintage images by Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen, Edward and Brett Weston, Andre Kertesz, Paul Strand, Imogen Cunningham, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and other masters that graced the second floor, the first floor gallery regularly featured the images of the likes of Sebastiao Salgado, Howard Bond, Jock Sturges, Phil Borges and once, from April 24 - June 7, 1992, I was honored that it featured my own one man show, "By A Clearer Light."

As a gallery operator and photographer Hal knows what he likes, is candid with his advice and criticism, and as long as I've known him (can it really be almost thirty years?) has been a staunch proponent of photography and its many expressive forms. And, unlike some gallery owners I've known, he doesn't insist that his photographers agree with his opinions (at least not always). He has afforded a forum to many perspectives and styles of image making.

Hal Gould is a rare individual—a unique character to be sure—and we are not likely to see another like him. In his closing announcement he doesn't talk about retiring, though at 91, one could hardly blame him if he chose to do so. Instead, Hal says he is going to work on his memories, return to the darkroom and organize his extensive collection. Like so many others who have known him as a mentor, and countless collectors and students, in whom he has engendered a love of photography, I wish him well.

If you are in the Denver area between March 25 and April, 30, don't miss the final exhibition. And when you see him, shake his hand and thank him for what he's done to enrich all our lives.

This tribute doesn't begin to cover all the details, but this article from the Denver Post will tell you more: http://www.denverpost.com/fdcp?unique=1300804314863

 

March 21, 2011:

About on-demand publishing

Remember the Xerox TV commercial where a professor explains to his students that while everyone has the right to be published, the odds are against them? One student interrupts "That's not exactly true. With on demand publishing...now everyone here can get published.” I think I first saw that commercial around 2004, and though it did stimulate me to learn more about the process, it wasn't until 2007 that I visited Blurb.com, downloaded their free BookSmart® software and tried it. It took me less than a day to put together a book of images from a three-day shoot in the slot canyons near Page, Arizona with my friends Pete Kunasz and John Rowe. It was a horizontal format 8" x 10" 32-page paperback complete with introductory text. I uploaded it to Blurb and about a week later my first finished copy arrived in the mail. As I recall, it cost around $15, and while the quality was not what I expect from a traditional offset press book like you will find in your favorite bookstore, I was favorably impressed with my experiment.

There are many reasons to use on demand book publishing aside from wanting to see your work in print. For example, it's a good way to share a "scrapbook" of memories with family and friends or make a record of a trip. You can order one copy at a time, or order in volume at a discounted unit price, which still tends to be higher than the per unit price of a book ordered in quantity and printed and bound in the traditional manner.

I saw this, however, as a way to assemble a book concept that could be shown to a conventional publisher and make a stronger presentation than a manuscript with a collection of loose or on-disk photographs. For that purpose the expense is modest.

Since that experiment in 2007, I've produced five books on demand and am currently working on two more. If you'd like to thumb through the pages of one of these on-line, go to http://www.blurb.com/books/1842612 , be sure to click the full screen icon on the lower right and you can look at the entire book (and read it if your screen is large enough).

This is not an endorsement of Blurb. It just happens to be the first on demand publisher I tried. I do like that they have a bookstore and, if you choose, you can display your book for the world to see. Their software is easy to use, but you also have the option of building your book in other programs like Adobe® In-Design® and upload PDF files. The one problem I've found with Blurb is that there quality tends to be inconsistent, and that is why the only book of mine that is still available to the public on their site is the one that I've linked above. They're capable of doing good work, but I've had disappointments despite working with a calibrated monitor, proofing my work in advance and following all their instructions to the letter.

Other on demand publishers you may want to check out include A&I Books http://www.aandibooks.com and My Photo Books http://www.softpedia.com. Again, these are not endorsements, but sites that have been recommended to me. There are many more.

 

These are four of the five on demand books I've completed since 2007. (I'm currently revising the fifth to add new material.) Prairie Landsmen (avove) will be the subject of a separate Blog post.

 

March 20, 2011:

Is this cheating? Using Adobe Photoshop® CS5's content aware fill.

As long as I can remember, photographers have wished there were such a thing as a filter to remove telephone wires and unwanted people from their pictures. Now, thanks to the wonderful people at Adobe® who continue to improve the capabilities of Photoshop®. we have that and more. Those of you who use Photoshop CS5 by now have at least played with the content aware fill tool. If you haven't, I urge you to try it.

We have had the clone tool for some time now, and more recently we were given the patch and healing brush tools. Some of us had become very skilled image manipulators and found it rather simple to open a subject's eyes, remove electrical and phone lines, even take a person's head from one exposure and put it into another frame to achieve both the best looking face and body position. We found those to be very good tools indeed, but content aware fill is a huge leap forward, capable of doing amazing things...and just as well, doing them quickly.

The two pictures below, are from the same exposure. The one on the left is, of course, the original. The one on the right is the retouched version with the fence completely removed. Have I cheated? Well, to be perfectly honest, I feel like I have, but if I wanted to salvage a decent image, I really had little choice. This picture was made on the way to the penguin colony I talked about yesterday, I was on a bus with 25 people and we had a schedule to maintain (the conditions were much better in the Falklands). The bus did stop, but there was no time to get off and make pictures from a better vantage point. The windows were fixed and I had to shoot through the glass, which also was lightly tinted. I selected a high ISO setting, a fast shutter speed and grabbed this shot. It was such a classic image, and had I been alone in my own car, I certainly would have stopped. But I wasn't given that opportunity and I wasn't coming back. So, if you want to call it cheating...well, yeah, it is what it is.

And it proves the value of content aware fill.

 

March 19, 2011-10:55 p.m. MST, from Santa Fe, NM The Perigee Moon

 

March 19. 2011:

Getting up close and personal with penguins, but no touching!

My trip to South America gave me two opportunities to photograph penguins: Magellanic penguins near Punta Arenas, Chile, and Gentoo penguins in the Falkland Islands. I wasn't surprised that I was able to get close to these very entertaining creatures because they are protected, and like the many birds I saw when I visited the Galapagos Islands, they don't feel threatened when people approach them. Still, it's always a thrill to share space with wildlife and to observe their behavior up close. And though it is a temptation to touch, it's something you just don't do.

One particular Gentoo penguin tempted me, however. I don't know what it was that attracted this bird to me, but it followed me around like a puppy, sometimes pecking at my pant legs and rubbing against my legs. I can tell many stories about this experience, but I'll let Sue's iPhone pictures tell this one, except for the ending. I finally became "marked" property when the penguin turned around and defecated on my left shoe. Sue was laughing too hard to make another picture.

One final comment...The long lens on my camera in this picture was pretty useless when I was this close to my subject. I plan to post more penguin images soon to the wildlife portfolio on my website.

 

March 18, 2011:

Something like this probably has happened to you...

For the past two days, I've been trying to find the source an annoying repetitive sound that I believed was coming from an appliance in my home—possibly a fan, possibly from my computer. When it occurred, it sounded like the rat-a-tat-tat of a distant machine gun, very regular and mechanical, and just loud enough to be irritating. I was always in my office when I heard it, so my first inclination was to think it was coming from my computer's fan. But it didn't occur at regular intervals and often when I got up from my chair and walked about the house, it ceased. Nevertheless, it seemed to make sense to open my computer's case and be sure there was no dust or obstruction interfering with the operation of moving parts. My effort was fruitless and the rat-a-tat-tat continued at irregular intervals throughout the day.

Late this afternoon, I took a break from my work and went into the living room to watch NBC Nightly News. I had opened the windows and a door to enjoy the fresh air. As I sat down in a comfortable chair, I suddenly heard the rat-a-tat-tat louder than ever. It came from outside the house.

Could it be a woodpecker? Sometimes they peck on our coyote fence, but I had never heard them peck so loudly.

And then I saw the source.

On my neighbor's roof, there is a metal chimney or vent cap, and on top of it pecking madly as if it were drumming a signal to a distant correspondent, was a large woodpecker. It would peck for a few seconds and then look up as if it was expecting a reply to its message, and then it would drum out yet another signal. I watched with amusement as this went on for several minutes.

I couldn't help thinking about how my neighbor would have reacted had she been at home. Within her house, the sound would have been much louder and possibly frightening. But she has been gone for months and I had to "enjoy" her visitor alone.

 

March 16, 2011:

Photographing in an extremely wet environment

In February, I had the opportunity to photograph Iguaçu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil. Spread over a distance of nearly two miles it is actually a system of 275 separate falls, some of which are almost 270 feet in height, providing the most dramatic water spectacle I've seen. I am fortuntate to have visited Victoria Falls and Niagara, so I knew before I left home that I would have to protect my equipment from mist that often seems more like steady rain.

Months earlier, I researched available rain protectors for my digital SLRs. I didn't want to invest in the ultimate underwater housing, but I did want something a bit more form fitting and convenient than a plastic trash bag. There are a lot of products available for the purpose and the prices sprawl over a wide range. I sought a cost effective solution—give me reliable protection (durable material)at price that makes sense to someone who doesn't need this kind of protection every day. After going back and forth between several sources, I finally decided to buy a Storm Jacket (http://stormjacket.com). By ordering it well in advance, I figured I'd have time to try it out before my trip and replace it with another product if it didn't seem to fit my need. As things turned out, it filled my requirements perfectly. I used it more frequently than I thought I might, in freshwater and saltwater environments, and found it very convenient to use. It was also very reasonably priced. (All models are priced below $60.) It folds down to fit in a very small (4.5" x 7") pouch, has bungee cords with locks to provide a snug fit around the lens barrel and allow the user to adjust the size of the rear opening, and a Velcro opening in the bottom to permit the camera to be mounted on a tripod or monopod.

It rained while I was at Iguaçu and the flow of water was more than normal for February, so I definitely needed protection. On top of that, I took a trip on the river below the falls that took me directly into the mist. So, the Storm Jacket was really put to the test. These were very difficult conditions, as the picture below demonstrates better than words.

 

 In addition to the Storm Jacket, it was important to carry the camera in a dry bag when it was not being used. Before enbarking on this trip, I searched for my own Stearns dry bag that I bought in Alaska in 2002, but I had stored it so well that I succeeded in hiding it from myself. So the one I used on the Iguaçu river was borrowed from the boat operator and, though adequate, it wasn't as secure or as dry inside as mine would have been. (Of course, my dry bag was found upon my return home and my Nikon D3X survived the experience.)

I'll share more of my South American experiences in the days to come.

 

March 1, 2011:

We were in South America for most of February, which accounts for the gap in this blog. It was an interesting trip and I'll post more information from it in subsequent entries.

 

January 30, 2011:

Successful photography is not simply about the making of pictures, nor can a successful photographer be only about technology and technique. Photography is a form of human expression, evolving from a person's concerns, desires and needs. While some photographers feign objectivity I cannot recall a great photograph that did not reflect some emotional involvement or artistic sensibility.

In my earlier years, I looked carefully at the work of others and attempted to emulate the qualities I admired. I slowly came to recognize the importance of developing an individual vision, style and statement. I learned that wasn't easy to accomplish. Not only did it require knowing as much about photography as I could absorb; it required knowing and understanding as much, or more, about myself. That, in turn, required honest and sometimes uncomfortable introspection. It often led to discomfiting exercises, failures, and rejection, though ultimately persistance and just plain hard work produced satisfaction. While trying to pass along lessons learned to those I teach, I continue to revise my own "lesson plan" and save my harshest criticisms for my own work. As for my students, I always remember the wisdom of Ernst Hass, and "I never judge a student's work too harshly; for how do I know that what I see as a failed attempt is not in fact a good beginning."

In December, in the company of Kent Bowser, I made my first trip to the Bisti (badlands), on Navajo land south of Farmington, New Mexico. I had wanted to see this bizarre and eerily wonderful landscape, but had been told that going there without a guide would probably not be productive. Kent, who is an extraordinary photographer and teacher of photographers has been exploring the Bisti for more than two decades, and he graciously agreed to give me an orientation. I would be, for me, the start of yet another good beginning. My pictures are just a beginning of what I hope will be a long and rewarding exploration.

It is difficult to do, but I have come to believe that one should never go exploring with specific expectations. Not only can that lead to frustration and disappointment, but it can cause you to become inflexible. You can become so intent on producing a specific result that you fail to see myriad possibilities that are likely to develop if you will only open your mind and allow the seeds to be planted. In this instance, Kent had shared with me a rather large and exquisite portfolio of Bisti prints. I had to remember that it had taken him years to accumulate those images, and I used that experience to inform me that there would be many ways to become involved with the landscape. Kent would not have stopped me from treating a subject in a manner similar to his, but I chose not to do so deliberately.

Truly new discoveries are unlikely to a landscape photographer working in this century. I have inadvertently placed my tripod in the holes left by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and countless others, but when I recognize where I am, I always attempt to find a different view or a different light. And when in the company of other photographers, I seek my own perspective. Not that there's anything wrong with two photographers knowingly making similar photographs from the same point; I just don't choose to do that. In two long days of shooting in the Bisti, Kent and I found distinctly different ways of photographing the areas we visited. Several times, I asked him, "Have you made a picture of this?" His answer in most cases was, "Probably." But we covered several miles in those two days at the Bisti and I am confident that we each achieved different results during our visit.

You can search the web and see what other photographers have found in this part of New Mexico, and should you decide you want to try it yourself, drive south from Farmington for thirty miles on Highway371 until you see a sign on your left directing you down a gravel road to the east. You'll find a designated parking area and a hiker's gate through a wire fence, but that's the last sign you'll see. There are no trails and no information center. Only magic.

These photographs were made in distinctly different areas of the Bisti over two days. They are but a small sample of the nearly 100 images I exposed.

 

 

 

 

 January 29, 2011

In 2007, I published the book Pilgrim Eye, retrospectively showcasing more than fifty years of photographing the American landscape with images that are accompanied by self-revealing stories and thoughts, most of which are excerpted from my many journals. It is not an autobiography, but a series of essays and a sharing of personal experiences that sometimes describe how the images were made, but more often explain how the experiences affected me.

When I was first asked about the book's title, I wrote, "The explorer travels to discover and investigate; the pilgrim travels and investigates to discover the sacred. When the eye beholds the sacred, one begins to better see oneself." This book is indeed my story of how I came to discover myself and the purpose of my work.

Pilgrim Eye is a 10" x 12" hardbound book of 168 pages, containing 128 color and tri-tone black and white images. Its suggested retail price is $50 and you can find it through PhotoEyeBooks or your local bookstore, which can order it from Oklahoma University Press.

There's also a special clamshell encased collector's edition of 125 books, individually numbered and signed, along with a signed and numbered pigmented ink black and white print. The price for this special edition is $350.

 

For postings between April 1, and June 27, 2011 go to Blog Archive here.
 

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