I was in Lincoln, Neb., yesterday for some business Continue reading
If you’ve never wandered The Plaza in Santa Fe on a winter’s night, you’re missing quite the experience. Continue reading
I nearly passed out when I found this tree yesterday. I have been searching for more than 15 years for a single tree in western Nebraska, on the right flat, grassy expanse, with the right clouds, at the right time of year, and I spent six hours with this one. I walked away with five usable images, one of which is this one.
Wandering around a ranch this January during a heifer spaying session, I found this weathered shed, its west wall a testament to both its age and exposure. The ranch has been in the same family for more than 110 years, constantly enduring the varied, violent extremes of weather to which the shed bears constant witness. Moreover, the plates themselves tell of the change in heritage and diversity as such pressure begin to encroach on this lost corner of Nebraska.
Like many photographers in the past 80 years, I defined my early career in landscapes through the imitation of Ansel Adams; though unoriginal, my photographs were informed and sculpted in their content by careful observation of Adams’ use of tone, surfaces and layers. Twenty years later, I still make careful use of Adams’ and Archers’ zone theories (though not as applicable for digital) when I compose, and some of Adams’ compositional techniques, albeit subconsciously.
Thus, on a winter day at sunset in Harrison, I walked south of town on the highway and found the same warm light glinting off the headstones of the Harrison cemetery, much the way that light did for Adams as he passed the town of Hernandez, New Mexico, so many years ago.
I have been enamored with this collection of buildings for a considerable amount of time, especially for its potential as part of my PlainSky, Nebraskans, project. The repetition of the arcs in the buildings, the staccato lines fence, and vanishing point created by the sign all connected to make an image that exudes the essence of the landscape in western Nebraska, while the desolation itself is a warning for the future of the people of this area.
Mark Rothko’s abstracts perplexed me as a teenage photographer; how could I, as an artist who was a child of the Paul Strand photographic reformation, reduce images to their true essence, simple explorations of color and light? I experimented for a decade with Renoir-style textures, Degas-inspired colors, and last January, with this Rothkoesque essay on the winter grass and tree belts along the Platte River. I have never Photoshopped this image; other than minor curves correction, the photo appears how it came out of the camera.
What are your thoughts (I’m looking for truth here)?
This image sums up one facet of my PlainSky, Nebraskans, project marvelously: “Crossing road, 2 tracks.” In a sentence, few other descriptions could be more accurate in expressing the gist of living in western Nebraska; lives of those here are punctuated by the rails. Sleep is broken by the distant wail of the engine’s horn, or the low song of the rolling wheels, as it carries across the still, silent prairie air on a January night, and even as one’s slumber is disturbed, he or she is refreshed by the lullaby of the sounds so mated to modern life on the prairie.