My friend George left for Japan today to teach with Arthur Meyerson. George makes images of solitude, and while I was in a hotel room in Denver this last weekend, I found myself empathizing with the emotions George channels in his photographs. I missed my children and my wife, and my compatriots in the photographic life. So I made an image of my own loneliness, inspired by George’s vision.
Life’s bittersweet underbelly revealed itself for me this last year, making 2015 one which I’ll never forget. As written in some previous posts, I’ve struggled trying to identify, to understand, then to express the emotions 2015 has left with me; as artists, we don’t run from the pain, we embrace it and use it.
I’ve long contemplated this photograph and several variations thereof; I knew I had to make it, but struggled with a satisfactory iteration in camera. But in December, one of my dearest friends suggested a balloon for the composition as we discussed my image plans while driving in northwest Texas. The wheels began turning, and this last Saturday, I made the first image of the idea, channelling my sense of isolation in the below-zero temperatures.
I made a needed trip to Texas about a month ago, and had some needed time with some of my besties in the whole world: George, Melinda, Liz and Keira. But photographically, I’m currently in the creative wilderness, and the trip gave me an opportunity to make an image that expresses that sense of wandering.
I made two prints this weekend: “Horses and Gathering Storm” and “Leif and Claire.” Two calibrated, museum-grade prints on my Epson Stylus Pro 3880. Prints that took me more than 14 hours of work between them, so much work that it really chafes when people suggest “digital has made producing photographic prints so much easier.” Maybe simple memory prints, but there is just as much work as before when making the top-quality products.
If you’d like a look into what just one part of the process entails, Field & Studio, where I have a tutorial for just the print feed calibration phase of the printing.
I’ve just completed a new tutorial on Field & Studio, my tutorial blog, for an easy way to remove slight banding in black and white prints when using the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 or the Epson SureColor P800. If you, too, are looking to find a solution to this vexing problem, this post may help.
I was spurred into finding my own solution to this after I struggled with the print shown here; it has low depth of field, which can pose a problem for inkjet printers. Let me know if you, too, have had the problem, and if my solution helped.
I went to Texas recently with my good friend and former assistant Liz McCue to see several other dear friends, including two accomplished photographers, Melinda Green Harvey and George Nobechi Bumstead. On the way there, we drove through myriad small towns, but in one, took a wrong turn. As we looked for a spot to turn around, both Liz and I exclaimed at the same moment, “Did you see those chairs?!?!”
I’ve begun a new project called “The Bones of Winter,” and sketches are important to the final product in any endeavor. The above is one such draft, and all are focused on a poem of Dickinson:
The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A travelling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.
A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.
While I was in New Mexico this summer teaching at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, I took a pilgrimage to the Andrew Smith Gallery, which deals solely in photography by the likes of the Westons, Ansel Adams, Edward Curtis and Lee Friedlander. Paul Caponigro is also there, and while he is most certainly not afforded the fame given to Ansel Adams, he would be very deserving of such. An original Caponigro has deep, midnight blacks punctuated by staccato bursts of near-white that leave the viewer unsettled and contemplative, yet placated by the natural beauty so overlooked within daily life. They are poems of sublime quietness.
So after I had left the landscape of mystery behind, moving north to Colorado, I found in my travels a small lake in the wilds of the Sawatch range that moved me much like a Caponigro.
Oh, what fun. Lured by the romance of finding hidden treasure, knickknack and antique hunters rummage a county fair building packed with items during the annual Nebraska “Junk Jaunt.” The 200-mile, 500-plus vendor trail includes more than 20 towns, whose residents will see visitors from half the states in the US.
I was lucky enough to travel two days of the Jaunt this year with some of my best students, and in Broken Bow, we found our own treasures…photographs.