Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tinder-Dry, a study


ANDREW WYETH: "Through the Olson's I really began to see New England as it really was. ... Overall, it's like dry bones, the house is like dry bones, the house is like a tinderbox."

GENE LOGSDON: “I believe artistic creativity exists in the same way a thought exists, or love, which is to say that it arises in that mysterious realm of the human animal where body and spirit intersect.”

PHOTOGRAPHER'S DIARY Reflections While Shooting at Olson House, Part 3:

This workshop has given me a fuller appreciation of Wyeth's achievement, not only his technical gifts, his ability to finesse transparency from the surface of his paper; but more importantly the evident physicality of his work, the degree to which emotion seems to leap from the tip of pencil or brush; a true expressionist!

Of the Olson House, Tillman Crane wonders, "Why did Wyeth work here? Was it the personality of Christina or the quality of light in the house? Perhaps both."

After a week shooting there, it seems to me the most natural place in which to imagine Wyeth working. Its light and flashing surfaces inhabit his work, but do Christina and Wyeth still inhabit the old house? Can a camera's lens find them as well?

Notes for Next Time: This was taken shortly after sunrise on my first morning at the house. The light was dazzling, and I knew it wouldn't last long. I moved quickly from location to location, composing and refining only a bit before moving elsewhere. As a result, this image has some technical problems. I initially preferred a related shot for its greater complexity, but I'm pleased with the syncopated beat and geometric play in this, and I want to remember it. It is a study, a jumping off point for a more focused (in both implications of the word) shoot.

Alas, the consequences of moving quickly are that I lament all I missed. A bit of zoom and crop and wonderful (low-res) things appear amid my rejects, a zoom away, but the review is instructive. I was enthralled by the crisp carpentry of the house. Now I think I know how to make the joints creak. I was afraid of the bright specular highlights and how they would record, so I only took a few, but they are a feature to be cherished. Spirits move in specular highlights. Then I chose to trek ahead and took shots from the meadow which had a wonderful glow; one is already posted.

I think of driving back to try again, but I fear by the time the trip can be made and the weather is right, the orbs will be out of alignment, the sun is racing south, and this is the north face of Olson House.