Month: November 2012

PlainSky, Nebraskans: Patty’s Zesto, Alliance

Patty’s Zesto, Alliance

One can find a few remaining Zesto drive-ins in a number of locations across the US. Throwbacks to a simpler and slower time, when our cars were less rolling multimedia ports for children and drivers, and more tools for experiencing the grandeur of the country itself, as well as ourselves, the Zesto drive-in was a key destination for a summer Saturday night or Sunday afternoon.

Now, these are endangered species, emblems of what the modern era means in terms of losing ourselves and our identities as communities. What better symbol–both nationally and locally–for the dying culture of the high Nebraska plains? And with this in mind, I tried to show Patty’s as just that, a reflection of its community, with the community itself reflected faintly in the windows of the drive-in.

Understanding Your Camera Podcast, Episode 1

Understanding Your Camera PodcastAs part of my PhD work, I’ve been tasked with creating an educational podcast aimed at helping novices learn how to use a camera more proficiently. So, here’s the link to episode one of Understanding Your Camera.

This first episode details the triadic relationship between f-stop, shutter speed, and ISO.
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PlainSky, Nebraskans: Ponderosa Roots, Pine Ridge

Ponderosa Roots, Pine Ridge

Ponderosa Roots, Pine Ridge

Across the West, the pine bark beetle has destroyed many of the pine forests so many Americans envision when they hear, “mountain woods.” A century of fire suppression, coupled with invasive species and political wars, conspired to make these forests a virtual smorgasbord for the beetle, and now many stands of pine have been reduced to little more than brown, dead opportunities for uncontrollable and destructive–rather than regenerative–fires.

The problem represents a painful reality for ranchers like Dave Kreman, whose land has been handed down through the generations since before the last of the 19th century. He is forced to watch as the stands of trees, so vital to the health of the land he so carefully manages in the interest of his family, his cattle, and the environment, are systematically devastated by an enemy he can’t fight.

PlainSky, Nebraskans: In His Father’s Arms, Mansfield Ranch

In His Father’s Arms, Mansfield Ranch

This young man and his friends have been the subjects of many, many a photograph for me; one of my goals is to continually document these cowboys as they grow into men, with families and children of their own. Yes, the people of western Nebraska are very, very important to me, and although they don’t realize it, they also are very photogenic.

On a dreary and cold May morning, more than three hours into a long day of brandings, I caught the young man in his father’s arms as another calf met its time at the hands of the hands. The photograph shows a son and father connected, a fleeting moment where everyone can see the love shared between the two, a love made stronger by a ranching life on the Great Plains.

It is a photograph of a muse. If one is looking for one of many reasons I can never, will never bear that the PlainSky, Nebraskans project stop, this is it. It is a project of family, evoking a piece of Edward Steichen’s The Family of Man: The Family of the Plains.

Black and White v. Color, Part Deux: Young Man’s Boots, Harrison

Let’s try this again. I have to extend my thanks to everyone who was kind enough to offer his or her opinion on the Bales and Storm; it was nice to have genuine feedback on what people prefer in a photograph!

So here’s one more opportunity to say, “Hey Brett, I like…” Which is better: the color boots, or the black and white?

Young Man Boots Color

Young Man’s Boots (Color)

Young Man's Boots, Harrison

Young Man’s Boots (Black and White)


PlainSky, Nebraskans Bales and Storm: Color or Black and White?

I’ll be honest. I’m shocked about the response to Bales and Storm: The photograph had laid ignored in a folder, and I skipped over it several times, saying, “Meh, it’s nothing anyone will find interesting.” Clearly, I should be “taken out back of the barn and shot.”

Yesterday, after raving about how much she liked the Bales and Storm black and white image, someone talked with me about whether or not I had the image in color; I said no, since my landscapes in the PlainSky, Nebraskans project have been exclusively black and white images. But, in the interest of discussion, I prepped a color version, and am posting the two images here for comparison. Tell me what you think.

Bales and Storm (Color)

Bales and Storm (Color)

Bales and Storm (Black and White)

Bales and Storm (Black and White)