PICTURE ONLY GALLERY LINKS
The life without the APA pictures are here
The The Forks ~ there's no place like home gallery is here
The ART ~ conveys / transports / reflects gallery is here
The Decay & Disgust work/book is here
The single women selects/book gallery is here
The picture windows selects/book gallery is here
The kitchen life selects gallery is here
A 10 picture look at Tangles, Thickets, and Twigs ~ fields of visual energy is here
It is part of the photographer's job to see more intensely than most people do. He must have and keep in him something of the receptiveness of the child who looks at the world for the first time or of the traveller who enters a strange country. - Bill Brandt
I have previously written about my attraction - in general and in picturing - to what the French call entre chien et loupe, between the dog and the wolf. If French isn't your thing, perhaps the word gloaming or twilight or dusk is the name / label for you. In any case, whatever the word choice, each refers to the time of day after the sun has set but deep darkness has yet to take hold.
My word preference is entre chien et loup because it is both rather poetic and the phrase also hints at the dichotomy between safety / danger, the known / unknown, the seen / unseen and the emotional states of tranquility / anxiety. IMO, no matter how pleasing and gentle the quality of entre chien et loup light bestows upon a scene, it is the aforementioned dichotomy which creates an emotional tension which I like my pictures to exhibit.
My entre chien et loup picturing activity is always inspired by the quality of light to be had at that time of day. A quality which I would describe as softly enveloping and one I became aware of, picture making wise, when I first turned my back on the fading light of a sunset. It would be an exaggeration to write that that was a picture making epiphany but, nevertheless, it was certainly an OMG moment and, for number of years after that visual awakening, much of my 8×10 view camera (with color neg film) work was focused upon making entre chien et loup pictures*.
However, that's not why I called you here today. Rather, it's to consider this:
...with most of my photographs, the subject appears as a found object, something discovered, not arranged by me. I usually have an immediate recognition of the potential image, and I have found that too much concern about matters such as conventional composition may take the edge off the first inclusive reaction. ~ Ansel Adams
A number of years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting two amateur picture making hobbyists who had been following my nature pictures on a nature picture forum. They were passing through my area on a return trip from a photo workshop in Maine, got in touch with me, and we hooked up for dinner and a next day picture making excursion.
Following Brett Weston's advice, re: Anything more than 500 yds from the car just isn't photogenic, we drove to a number of nearby iconic Adirondack locations so they could explore some picture making possibilities. As I recall, they had a good assortment of gear but the thing that has stuck with me - appallingly so - to this day was that, at every picturing spot, their first order of business was to look at the scenes in front of them, not for what they were, but for how those scenes could used as fodder for making pictures by the "rules".
To wit, they looked for "leading lines", "s-curves", and the like - literally pointing them out with their fingers - and discussed how various elements within a scene could best be placed according the "rule of thirds". Their picture making was driven by the antithesis of Sir Ansel's advice to not have "too much concern about matters such as conventional composition" and they demonstrated little, if any, "immediate recognition of the potential image" or a "first inclusive reaction" to that which was in front of them.
Considerate gentleman that I am, I refrained from commenting, nay screaming, about getting their eyes out of their asses in order to facilitate seeing that which was staring them in the face. I was able to conduct this admirable constraint by biting my tongue so hard and deep that I nearly required a blood transfusion and a tongue transplant to replace that which had lost.
Of course, another option was to use my mouth to pass on some advice from the other Weston (Edward). To wit ...
One does not think during creative work, any more than one thinks when driving a car .... to consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk. Such rules and laws are deduced from the accomplished fact; they are the products of reflection ...
In any event, both I and they had a pleasant day even though I was looking at what was in front of me and they were looking for pictures.
FYI, the walk around the block pictures are presented , top > bottom, in the order in which they were made.
Some people are still unaware that reality contains unparalleled beauties. The fantastic and unexpected, the ever-changing and renewing is nowhere so exemplified as in real life itself. ~ Berenice Abbott
While it can be stated with absolute certainy that my picturing making M.O. revolves around the reality of everyday life, it should be noted that it also defies the common picture making wisdom of finding a vision driven by a specific thing (or things), a referent, which is of particular interest / that which one cares about.
Most often, that authoritative counsel, re: a thing(s), is understood to mean actual tangible things, i.e. people, places, or physical objects, whereas my picture making is driven by an intangible thing - a deep and abiding connection to the concept of the reality of everyday life. Of course, that connection leads me to make pictures of actual everyday things - encounters with real people, places, or objects. However, it is only in rare cases that I truly care about or have a particular interest in those individual people, places, or things.
What I care about most in my picturing making, what drives me to make pictures, is, quite simply, the act of making pictures.
That written, it is true that I have many disparate thematic bodies of work - see my PICTURES ONLY GALLERY LINKS at the top of my blog homepage. However, those bodies of work grew out of my everyday picturing when I realized that, unintentionally, I had thematic work "hidden" within my vast library of pictures (see my most recent "discovery"). It was only when I recognized those thematic connections / patterns that I edited them into separate bodies of work and began, intentionally, to be aware of picturing opportunities that allowed me to add to those separate bodies of work.
However, despite that awareness of thematic picturing opportunities, I rarely venture forth with the conscious intention of making pictures which expand on those bodies of work. That is to write, I venture forth, quite simply, knowing that I will, most often, make pictures of some thing or another and that in so doing I will make some pictures which I will be able to use to expand various individual bodies of work.
Consequently, it is fair to write that my bodies of work grow organically from my primary interest in the medium and its apparatus - my love of just making pictures.
FYI, it is somewhat ironic that, early in my commercial photography career, I was assigned to make a number of contributions to several of Eastman Kodak's Joy of Photography book series. While my contributions to those books were of the how-to / tools-&-techniques variety, it wasn't until later in my picture making life that I came to know the true joy of making pictures.
I am doing a fundraising art show/sale this evening for which I have assembled a series of atmospherics pictures made in the Adirondacks. I have done so in order to present a series of related pictures, body of work style, rather than a hodge-podge of unrelated pictures.
IMO, a body of work will grab and hold a viewer's attention much better than a disparate group of pictures, which, hopefully, will result in more sales. Hopefully, inasmuch as a significant % of sales will go to the sponsoring non-profit organization.
The challenge for me has first been to see things as they are ... In a word, I have tried to be objective. What I mean by objectivity is not the objectivity of a machine, but of a sensible human being with the mystery of personal selection at the heart of it. The second challenge has been to impose order onto the things seen and to supply the visual context and the intellectual framework - that to me is the art of photography. - Berenice Abbott
In his book, THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S EYE, John Szarkowski wrote that "the central act of photography (was) the act of choosing and eliminating". That notion seems to me to be rather elementary and obvious - anyone who picks up a camera to make a picture makes a decision regarding who / what / where at which to point it.
However, Szarkowski went on to state that, in choosing and eliminating, there was more to it than just that. To wit, that the act of choosing and eliminating (Bernice Abbott's personal selection) force a concentration on the picture's edge - the line that separates in from out - and on the shapes that are created by it. Which, in so doing, provides the methodology to accomplishing a successful result, re: Abbott's second challenge to impose order onto the things seen.
IMO, and to my eye and sensibilities, therein is the difference between good and no-so-good pictures. Good pictures most often evince a refined and interesting sense of the relationships, interdependence, and tension of 2D shapes (not to mention color and tonality) to be seen within the boundaries imposed by the frame, aka: the edges of a picture.
Without a doubt, when making a picture, the maker must pay as much attention to the frame he/his chooses to create / impose. Although, it is well worth noting that, in my experience, the paying-attention-to is most often an intuitive rather an intellectual exercise. That is to write, either you see or feel it or you don't.
This past weekend, the wife, my friend Robert, and I went to Beekmantown to tour a new passive solar house (it's visible in the lefthand triptych picture). Conroy's Organics was nearby so we stopped in for a little refreshment and I ended up engaged in staring contest with a herd of Scottish Highland cattle.
Inasmuch as the cattle were showing an inclination to stare at me until the cows came home, the cattle won.