I believe I’ve bored everyone to tears who follows me on Facebook with landscape/skiing images from Alberta, Canada. So here’s one last one: the back side of Mt. Rundle in Banff, Canada with a full moon in the eastern sky, right at sunset.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since I lasted posted to my blog. Sometimes, life just has a way of taking over. But have no fear, I’ve been tirelessly capturing images. Most of my images have been the product of iphones. I’ve always been a promoter of alternative cameras, starting with plastic Diana cameras in the ’70’s. In a way, iphones are kind of like old school toy cameras; certainly a lot of the photo apps ape toy camera photography with countless filters, some even named Diana. Go figure. So, as I distill down a year’s body of iphoneography, I’ll you give one of the early ones; interestingly I was at this location last week, and the nozzle is no longer there, but the hose is, lying almost in the same place.
Photographing in Spain always brings out the BOLD in me. My first trip there was in 1974, and I ended up staying for a while with my girlfriend’s mother on Ibiza during the late winter. I was just starting to make photographs; I didn’t have a clue what to do with a camera other than push the shutter release. One image I made was of small hilly, mountainous island jutting out of the Mediterranean with the weak winter sun behind it. Later, back home someone saw the photograph and told me what an artist I was. I had never even considered the possibility of being an artist. Bottom line, that photograph plus a couple of others from around New England got me hooked on photography. A year later I quit my day job, I hopped on a Polish freighter, and I moved to Europe with all the accoutrements for a B&W darkroom (Those were the days). Once in France, I started to teach myself photography. That didn’t mean I was a photographer yet, even by a long stretch of the imagination. But I had the bug, and I started to learn. During the year-and-a-half that I lived in Europe I spent a lot of time in Spain. And after I came back to the United States, I periodically returned to Spain to visit friends and to photograph. My most recent Spanish sojourn was for my wife’s 50th birthday several years ago. It was one of my last trips using film as my primary photographic medium (although I was beginning to dabble with a digital point-and-shoot camera). From that last Spanish visit, here are a pair of Spanish images, bright in color, abstract in composition, intentionally painterly, and without manipulation.
I saw this one on the North Fork on my way to Liz’s “the egg lady” farm. It wasn’t until I got out of the car and I was about ready to make the capture did I see the heart. (It reminded me of a small heart shaped piece of corral that I once found on a beach a long time ago: I still have it.) And just for fun, I used a real long focal length lens to flatten everything out. Interestingly, there were no clues as to what was being grown inside the greenhouse; maybe bouquets of love.
Here are several more personal architectural images from my pool shoot last week. They’re from a small house in East Hampton. The owner bought the property for a quick fix and flip. It is a small, one story 80s vintage bungalow with a great, sloping back yard. Her architect designed a huge wooden wall in front of the house which is what you see to the left in my first image. My pool guy, Mikie, designed an incredible negative edge pool which took advantage of the back yard’s steep grade. His mason used the same stone for the veneer of the pool’s wall, the patio, and the house foundation’s veneer. I like how Mikie picked up the wood theme from the house’s front wall, and incorporated it in the back yard’s retaining walls. This little Hampton’s weekend getaway can be yours for a mere $1.75M.
Today, I was photographing swimming pools for my pool company. For fourteen years, we’ve had a barter system whereby I photograph their newly constructed pools and, in return, they service and maintain my pool. After nearly a decade and-a-half, I can say without fear of contradiction that I am an expert at swimming pool photography. So this afternoon, I was at a brand new, 15000 square foot, “mac-man” lodged in the dunes overlooking the ocean. The pool was all right: I guess what made it somewhat photogenic was its location and its proximity to the ocean. But for about ten minutes, I became really preoccupied with photographing the walkway through the dunes and down onto the beach. The raw file capture below was rgb color, of course, but with a small digital back rub, I ended up with this image.
And what’s cool is after fourteen years of doing this, the pool guy, Mikie, knows to leave me alone when I wander off, and I start to photograph random things. In fact, by now, he’s always really interested to see what has attracted my attention.
While languishing on the Mystic Bridge in a mind numbing traffic jam back in the ’70s, I grabbed this image by sticking my right arm out the passenger side while I was holding a 35mm camera. I really like the graphic quality of white stripes on the motorcycle cops’ pants and the white line on the pavement. I also really like the expression on the cop’s face who’s standing to the right. I’m sure they could have cared less what I liked or what I thought. Looking at an image from that far back, I wonder where these guys are now: if they’re still alive, I bet they’d like to have a print of this.
How many of you long time Newburyporters remember the CP Cigar Shop on State Street. It was several doors up from Fowles. I don’t recall it still being in business during my tenure in “River City”; but I made this photography of its front door sometime around the time I made Joy Ride in the late ’70s. I came across my master print of it within the past year as I was going through various portfolios. The image still stands the test of time for me. And what I also recall about CP Cigar Shop, is that former Newburyport mayor, Byron Matthews, bought a print of it from me back in the day. Price? Twenty-five dollars for a 11×14 split toned print, unframed. Boy, did he get a deal…the perks of political office. I googled him, and it appears he’s still alive. I hope he still has my print.
I was recently urged to search my way-way-back B&W archive for an image of a long ago departed local Newburyport character, Duncan Chase. He was the local drunk who had an acute fondness for loudly proclaiming to all passerby that he was “a cool, cool cat from New York City” and that he “walked the line…yeoahhhh”. Many afternoons he could be found slumbering in sunlight-warm doorways and sharing that warmth with an empty whiskey pint right next to him.
But that’s not what I want to talk about here. While searching the way-way back archive, I stumbled across a couple of B&W negatives that are of major significance for me. The one below, Joy Ride, is on my top ten, all time life time list. I have a silver gelatin, split toned, selenium print of it on my wall as I post this. I fondly remember making the print back in Newburport, and I recall how amazed I was that I finally learned the nuance of split toning. The print has been on my wall almost everywhere I’ve lived since I made it.
So what’s so cool about it? To start with, it’s a seriously gorgeous print. But the image itself is one that can walk and chew gum at the same time. Back when I exposed the film for this image, a friend lent me a real short focal length Nikon lens. I was using a Nikkormat then, and I was enamored by images from short focal length lenses. In previous posts, I’ve talked about the importance of Salisbury Beach for me. Joy Ride was taken at Salisbury Beach at the end of the summer season, a day or two before workers folded everything up for the winter. Even at the time of exposure, I knew I had a winner. It wasn’t until later, much later (like years later) that I fully grasped the graphic impact of the designs on the cars, the punctuation of the light bulbs, and how the white lazy clouds are layered onto the sky, yet behind the ride itself.
Mine is a small print, nine inches wide. After twenty-five years, a print may be labeled as a vintage silver gelatin print (VSGP in galleryspeak). Joy Ride is now in that club; after nearly forty years, time’s patina has washed over my Portriga Rapid Afga paper print with a gloved hand, gently burnishing it with a soft blush of autumnal mellowness. (Do I sound like I miss wet process printing and the darkroom? Yar, you betcha!) Sure, I know how to replicate split toning in Photoshop, and sure I wanted you to see what my little print looks like; but trust me on this one, digital can’t come close to what time has meticulously rendered without bytes, without digital tools, brushes or filters. Without asking it, time has done its job on my print of Joy Ride like it has etched the lines and wrinkles on my face. Ever since Nicéphore Niépce, everyone has agreed that, if nothing else, photography is about time.
I captured this image of my friend’s daughter, Isabella, last week. I was sitting up on a deck overlooking the backyard where Isabella was just starting to pump herself higher and higher on the swing. For once, I actually had a camera at hand, and I scurried down in front of her. It was twilight, and I purposely avoided using a flash while I made this capture. I mean, how great is the blue rope, her blue dress, and of course, her blurred red hair?