Thursday, April 29, 2010

Waiting for the Clouds 8:24:16 AM, April 27, 2010

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: This afternoon the lighting guy in the sky had the evening off and left the house lights on full, but I'm still thinking about "theater lights." Another element worth considering:

2. FLUX: Sometimes the cloud patches are randomly scattered, an equal oportunity sky, but at other times the clouds will configure themselves into crests and troughs. I learned long ago that clouds' motion can be deceptive, and I've wasted much time standing with sunshine falling somewhere to the left and right of me and sure the clouds were shifting one of those beams my way. It's much easier to tell how the clouds are moving by following a beam of light cast against the hillside than by trying to follow the gaps in the clouds, but when the sky is arranged in long rows of cloud, chances are the clouds are moving in the direction the rows point. The currents that carry the clouds move up and move down and are affected by land contours as they move. As the air lifts it may even form new clouds. One may think the cloud mass is moving on when it is actually forming overhead. As a general rule it's fruitless to chase the sunshine, but in the conditions just described one must eventually cut ones losses and try another hillside.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waiting for the Clouds 8:20:03 AM, April 27, 2010

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: I'm still following the weather. I continued shooting through yesterday and part of today as well. Both afternoons produced "theater lights," the condition in which the spaces between the clouds beam sunlight onto features of the landscape. In its way, photographing under theater lights can be a bit like chasing twisters only considerably safer. The results can make it all worthwhile. I'm still learning how they work, but I'm trying to identify some things I've found worth considering.

1. CLOUD COVERAGE: How much white and how much blue is there? It's easy when big, discrete, cotton-ball clouds float by, but it often gets more interesting when clouds are layered and of varying tonalities and colors. Often under such conditions the beams that come through are few and far between. These two days tried my patience, and the resulting photos were not worth the effort, but the tender spring leaves of the oaks have started to open which means the Monet leaf moment will soon be gone. That, and the beauty of the cloudscape, convinced me that there was rare potential now. All things being equal, which they seldom are, as the angle of the sun declines, the gaps get tighter, less frequent, and infinitely more beautiful to photograph. Never-the less, it became clear the odds of such a miracle happening on my watch were declining quickly, and I went home early.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Waiting for the Clouds 8:18:57 AM, April 27, 2010

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: My kind of photography generally follows the weather. One of the joys of photographing along the Maine coast is that the weather often changes hourly. In sharp contrast, the weather in these Connecticut hills abides. Good photographic opportunities often come with the weather front, and I watch for them. It may bring mist and fog or clouds in gymnastics tumbles, puffy or glowering. There may be searchlights bigger than hills moving across the treetops and shadows swelling underfoot. And there is always waiting, today plenty of it, as here, timeless, beside a still pond a couple of hours after sunrise as my camera time-stamps the moment.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Starberry Farm Constellations, April, 30, 2009

WILLIAM BLAKE: "Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Misty Morning Farm

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Gunn Memorial Library's Stairwell Gallery will be presenting an exhibition of my photographs beginning on May 8th and running through June 19th.  The Exhibition entitled "Farm," will include new prints of farms in and around the Berkshire, Taconic, and Hudson hills.  I'm in the process of preparing new prints, many from images that have appeared on this blog. 

There will be an opening reception from 11 AM to 1 PM.  All are invited.  The Gunn Library is at 5 Wykeham Road (at Route 47) in Washington, Connecticut.

For additional information, directions, and hours visit the Gunn Library web page: http://www.gunnlibrary. org or call (860) 868-7586

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trail to Meeker Swamp, April 14, 2010

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: This is the season when nature imitates Monet. She works quickly, and before I know it, blushes have become fully saturated and mostly green. But this is still the very beginning; Monet is still mostly confined to the valleys.

Down the trail at the swamp I can hear the chatter of the black birds. When I emerge from the forest at the end of the trail they will be all around me, their flights reflecting in the glassy surface of the beaver pond. Out here in the hay field the sun is low and I'm amazed at how painterly nature unmanipulated by Photoshop can sometimes be. Even the ubiquitous unsharp filter seemed too much manipulation.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


LEWIS THOMAS: “Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into war, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves, engage in child labor, exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television.”

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: It's not clear that the law-givers of the universe care how the energy in these super-charged kernels gets transformed. One way or another, however, the fault lines appear, and it's on its way to becoming somebody else.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Corn Nudging

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL - Contrary to usual practice, I'm posting this image and the next despite technical flaws. They are, at best, trifles, but the corn search is ongoing, and the journal of travel would seem incomplete to me without these at least as place holders. Oh, to have a stronger back while shooting close to the ground in the wet field! In the process of trying to learn about mushrooms, I came across this wonderful poem by Sylvia Plath called "Mushrooms"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Corn Parable

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: The corn photos that began with the previous TODAY'S were taken last June. The field had been cut late, and there was an unusually high number of full ears turned under with the stalks. Some, the crows fed on, but many were left and rained on through spring. Some rotted in the mud; mysterious transformations, all.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Winter Harvest

HENRY DAVID THOREAU: “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our head.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blacksmith: The Sequel

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Sometimes I'm diving off a cliff into unknown. I don't know why I decided to render this image as I did or exactly what I was expecting. It was already interesting in full color. However, the minute I had done it I realized I had magnified my control over the meaning of the image. Even playing with only the color-to-B&W conversion of the house I had new power to shape, not only the nature but more importantly the relation of the two characters. Surprisingly, either could be made the protagonist. In the balance lay the intensity of the conflict. Anyone who wishes is invited to write the script.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Blacksmith's Shop II

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: When I first entered this shop, I had been told it was a blacksmith's shop, but I was barely aware of the anvil and hearth amid the clutter. I read about smithing, made repeated trips and educated my eye. One by one, all of the blacksmith's essential tools revealed themselves to me as if out of thin air. Now when I enter it feels as if the blacksmith had just stepped outside before I entered. Was he out by the barn replacing a hinge and puffing on his Edgeworth? Would he return momentarily and fire up the hearth? The tools he needed would be around him and ready as they were a few moments back.

Long after his essentials had reappeared, one item remained plainly invisible to the blind man. A note in an old blacksmith's text I found online pointed the way. It said a blacksmith always had a bucket of water by his work to cool or temper the iron. Was there a bucket? My images to that point revealed none. I got back to the shop as quickly as I could. Of course it was there, right where it should be. It's visible here between the blower and the anvil. Someone has let it run dry.

Some readers will look at this and remember an earlier image posted here, not too dissimilar but from slightly further back and a bit to the left. I posted it twice, first as a monochrome and then, "in technicolor." It was the first shot of the shop interior I posted. It was a month or more before I began the series. Several people commented that they liked the splash of light which peppered the room and fell over part of the anvil, but the overall sense of the image was the chaos. At that point, that's all I could see. Now it's clear that had I changed position and angle slightly the order could have been clear, but everything was still invisible to me then.

The earlier shots: (1), (2)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fading Light

ROBERT DOISNEAU: "I don't usually give out advice or recipes, but you must let the person looking at the photograph go some of the way to finishing it. You should offer them a seed that will grow and open up their minds."