September 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

One of the great things about being a kid is that you get to stand just a little distance outside the adult world and see things your own way. Come to think of it, that’s one of the great things about being a photographer!


Some experiments

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Top: I adapted on old Agfa roll-rilm camera so that I could put a roll of 35mm film into it. This created long, narrow images that also included the sprocket holes of the film. This is a steam pipe at the University of New Hampshire.

Middle: A roll of film run through an Olympus half-frame camera, with the camera moving slowly across a landscape, in this case, Horse Barn Hill at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. The effect of the contact sheet is a sort of cumulative panorama,

Bottom: Two hand-colored pictures that ended up side by side in a box of prints. They looked good together, so I glued them into one unit.

It’s easy to assume that we know what photographs should be. But it’s fun to go beyond assumptions to see what else they can be. One of my favorite moments in the history of photography came at the Institute of Design in Chicago in the 1950s. Under the leadership of Laslo Moholy-Nagy, a group of photographers that included Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind insisted on not seeing photographs in the traditional way. Photos were combined in all sorts of juxtapositions, double exposures turned the world into a new place, and commonplace subject matter was raised to new levels of artistic value. One of the many little bits of “theme music” that plays continuously in the back of my head is the work of the Institute of Design during that period. Happily, it has made me quite fearless when it comes to not just taking the first thing that comes out of the camera.

High-contrast still lifes

September 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

A couple done with a 4×5 view camera (1 and 4) and a couple done with a Nikon F3 and a 35-70mm lens. The film was developed in pyro, an ancient and fairly poisonous chemical, that was supposed to render exquisite detail. Guess I didn’t mix it exactly ┬áright, because the result was these stark black and whites. But they have a strength of their own, and I like them, despite the fact that they were a surprise.

Signature style?

September 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

It’s when your pictures look pretty much alike . . . as if they all came from the same person with the same sensibility. A Richard Avedon looks like a Richard Avedon, a Deborah Turbeville looks like a Deborah Turbeville. But that never interested me. I like too many different cameras and styles and films (in the old days), and post-processing techniques. I’m restless and like to experiment with a pocket camera one day and an SLR the next and then a plastic toy camera and then to put a filter on the pocket camera and change the setting to sepia and . . . well, who cares about a signature style anyhow. Once in a while, I fantasize that I am going to just settle on still lifes or landscapes or that my car will break down in Sabbathday Lake, Maine, and it will be a sign from above that I should focus on a documentary of the Shakers. But you know what, I love exploring and trying new things, and photography is endlessly fascinating to me, so I think I am going to go right ahead doing it the way I have always done it. Someone else can worry about consistency.

Polaroid still life

September 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

I love digital, but there will never be anything like Polaroid 4×5 positive/negative film. What a magic carpet!

River landscape 2

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

River landscape 1

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

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