SHADES OF GRAY 2020

Because of the pandemic restrictions, this annual show will be, like many others, a virtual exhibition, available for viewing online only. The good news is it will up for nine months, December 26, 2020 until September 30, 2021.

I am, as always, pleased to have my images juried into this show and there is a little story that goes with this year’s selections. Several years ago I had submitted and had accepted into the show one of these Taos images, the one titled No Sanctuary – Taos, 1847. I printed, matted and framed it in one of my new beautiful, brushed Aluminum frames only to have it returned to me, unhung, because the frame was gray, not black! Since this show is virtual, frames are not an issues so I decided to submit it again along with two companion Taos images and all three were accepted. They are:

Taos Pueblo – A Proper Perspective

No Sanctuary – Taos, 1847

San Geronimo

Squares and Blurs: The Exhibition

This exhibition was scheduled for the month of September, 2020, at the Vista Grande Public Library in Santa Fe, NM. Because of the restrictions of the COVID19 pandemic, the library has been opened on a limited basis and, as of this writing, is likely to continue in that mode for the foreseeable future. The show that would have been hung will be presented in virtual form on the library’s website. I am presenting it here as well, divided into two slideshows: squares and blurs. Note you can stop the autoplay by clicking on the button in the upper right corner of each image. Please see the previous post for an introduction to the exhibition.

Squares

Blurs

Squares and Blurs: Introduction

Squares

A few years ago I saw an exhibition of small, square format black and white images of Michael Kenna. They were powerful in their elegance and simplicity; I was surprised such small landscapes “worked.” I determined to try my hand at square format. I found myself looking at images with an entirely different eye, finding my impression of the landscape rather than the landscape itself and directing viewers to that intent.

The challenge is to simplify the composition, to distill the essence that makes the scene special. It is a very satisfying exercise and one that is by no means finished as I continue to search for the right balance between shape and texture, the optimum placement of elements within the square and the effective use of negative space. An example may help illustrate these ideas.

This is the original lake trees image. The final image follows.

Lake Trees

Here I wanted to reduce the image to what essentially attracted me: those dead trees trunks sticking up from the water. Converting to black and white emphasizes form and texture without the distraction of color.

In the slideshow which is the next post, the black and white square format images are my earliest; the color images more recent.

Blurs

I use “blurs” to summarize a variety of manipulations that can be used to render a straightforward photograph more aesthetically pleasing, more faithful, perhaps, to an original impression, evoking an ethereal or mysterious atmosphere. The intent might be to create a gentler feel or emphasize a more graphic or abstract quality.

Photographers have been doing this from the inception of the medium, sometimes because they had no choice, then purposefully by the Pictorialist School in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to emulate the look of “art.” More often it is done to follow the urges of a personal aesthetic sense. Here is an example.

This is the original at the shore image. The final image follows.

At the Shore

This is all about abstraction, presenting the shapes and colors without the distracting detail of the sand pebbles and the small lines of waves. It fits how I see, feel the scene when I am lying in the sun on a beach squinting at the ocean. That little bit of magenta in the mid ground which is easy to ignore or miss in the original becomes more prominent.

There are myriad darkroom techniques to achieve these effects. I have used what amounts to a digital darkroom to transform certain images into something more than an accurate record of a scene, something that allows me to use my imagination and, I hope, engage yours.

What a Year!

This year started out great for photography with acceptance into the  2020 Anza Borrego Desert Photo Contest . This contest was preceded, in the spring of 2019, by a spectacular super bloom in the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas, a super bloom of quality and quantity that had not been seen in decades. And I was there for both of these shows!

Anza Borrego Desert Photo Contest

One of my favorite places is the Anza Borrego Desert State Park in southeastern CA. It covers over 600,000 acres of wilderness and  mountains, much of it inaccessible except on foot. What is accessible are vast areas of badlands, palm oases, slot canyons, 4 wheel drive roads, broad vistas – a landscape photographer’s paradise. Each year a photo contest, limited to images taken within the park boundaries, entices hundreds of photographers to show their work.

Although photographing there for years, it did not occur to me to enter the photo contest until last summer, after having spent many hours pursuing the fabulous wildflowers of the super bloom. I had lots of images to choose from and submitted, digitally,  the 10 allowed. I was surprised and pleased when 8 of those 10 made the first cut, the final couple hundred from which the judges would pick winners in each of the six categories. Submission then required the images to be printed, mounted and delivered to Borrego Springs, a small town that sits in the middle of the Park. Wintering now in the Coachella Valley, it was a pleasure for me to make the delivery. Here are the 8.

The last two images, Palm Oasis and Feast for a Desert Prince,  were awarded Honorable Mention in the Black and White and Animals category, respectively, and were displayed, along with all the winners, during the month of February at the Borrego Art Institute in Borrego Springs.  At the excellent critique session that preceded the opening reception I discovered, to my surprise, that almost all the winners were local, professional photographers. I was in very good company.

Super Bloom 2019

The images above with wildflowers were taken in the spring of 2019 during that amazing super bloom. I was enchanted with the wildflowers, vast fields of which replaced the drab greens, grays and tans of the desert with purple, pink, yellow and white. They appeared not only in the expanses of the neighboring parks but also on every vacant lot, every patch of bare ground in the urban sprawl of the Coachella Valley.

I marveled at the vistas, but also saw stunning arrangements of flower varieties set among rocks, in dry arroyos, up hillsides and, of course, individual flowers. I photographed them all hoping, someday, someway to give others a glimpse of this glory. A book? Sure, but then I was daunted by the task of identifying all those flowers and just set the whole idea aside. The Anza Borrego Photo Contest spurred me to cull these photos for suitable entries, but the real motivator to create a book was the COVID19 pandemic with its mandated stay at home regimen.

The book, Super Bloom 2019, was just published by Blurb, You can see a preview of the whole book here. What follows are some of the images not in the book.

Costa Rica

 

I went on my first ever photography workshop, to Costa Rica, in early
June 2018. It was just the beginning of the rainy season and although
there was rain most days it did not last long and did not interfere with
our expeditions. Indeed, some of the macro images of plants and
flowers benefited from the left over water droplets. The heat and
humidity were impressive to this desert dweller.CR book jpegs-68
The Osa Peninsula, where we spent the entire trip, is at the southwestern corner of Costa Rica. Although this small country has 5 million
inhabitants,  3 1/2 million of them live in the capital, San Jose. The rest of the country is sparsely populated and the Osa Peninsula is largely rain forest. Within this small peninsula live an astonishing variety of wildlife, including all four species of monkey found in the country.
Lush tropical plants, flowers, bugs and birds abound.

The pace of this workshop was exhausting but the company was good and the food and accommodations superb. I came home with about 1500 images (and that was minimal; one man took 10,000 pictures!) and was totally overwhelmed with the prospect of culling then editing them. I set them aside for a few months, occasionally checking to see if anything looked worth pursuing but not being tempted until I came upon the image above. It made me smile and inspired me to seek out others that had that quality. Invariably these were of monkeys and so the theme Monkey Business emerged. I created a book and had a show at the local library with that title. Once started I found choosing and editing with a purpose the enjoyable activity I’ve always experienced. The book and the show were rounded out with images of other creatures and colorful flora. Here are some of the images shown.

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BTW, I donated  sales from the library show to the library’s Children’s Programs, ~$250;  very satisfying.

I plan to add a gallery page with these and more images from Costa Rica in a format that will allow you to pick and choose and linger if you like. Watch this space!

Sky’s the Limit: New Mexico

The New Mexico Art League’s latest exhibition features representations – in a variety of media – of the  fabulous skies in this state. All three of my submissions were accepted (a first) and the one above was taken right up the  street from my house. It’s titled Eldorado, the name of our little unincorporated community about 12 mile southeast of Santa Fe.

Another image, A Proper Perspective, is a variation on a theme. You’ve seen it before in black and white. Here is the color version.

 

A Proper Perspective (410 x 600)

A Proper Perspective

The third image, Virgas, may also be in a gallery on this site, called there Into the Rain. It was taken in NE New Mexico, near a town called Roy,  where the land begins to become plains. I changed the title because on closer examination I thought the rain wasn’t actually reaching the ground, hence virgas. What do you think?

Virgas (aka Into the Rain)

Virgas

Praxis Gallery’s MONO-KROMATIC

Upcoming at the Praxis Gallery in Minneapolis is an exhibition of black and white photographs and one of my submissions was juried into the show. It’s called Saguaro and it’s reproduced below,

The exhibition runs from July 26 through August 9 so if you happen to be in the area at that time do stop by and have a look.

Saguaro

Note added, July, 2020: Turns out I got the Juror’s Choice Award for this image. I didn’t know this until I recently received the little book Praxis published with all the images from the exhibition. They do this for every show. If you have an image in the show you can buy the book but it’s gratis if you get an award. I hadn’t ordered the book so was surprised to get it in the mail and when I opened it discovered Saguaro was the Juror’s Choice: a welcome surprise amid the COVID19 gloom.

Lay of the Land New Mexico

The New Mexico Art League has juried in two of my images for the above titled exhibition. It will be an exhibition of prints, drawings, paintings, mixed media and photographs. That’s quite a mix so I’m pleased to have been included. The image above, Gorge, is one of them and the other is O’Keefe Country, below.

O'Keeffe Country

Not far from Abiquiu, NM

The show runs from Sept. 4 through Oct. 6, 2018 at the Art League, click for directions. More information about the Art League and its programs can be found here.

OOPS!

Until today I had listed the wrong times for an opening reception for my Trees show at the Vista Grande Library, That has been corrected and the opening reception is Friday, June 1, 4-6pm. Do come; there will be food, lots of interesting people and, of course, images of trees.

A future post will show some of the images in that show that are not otherwise on this site. The one above is 4th of July.