Nature’s simple beauty is refreshing after a wonderful, colorful, noisy holiday. My neighbors, organic gardeners, grow many things. While they harvested their onions last week, they left these for a few days so I could photograph them. I thank them!
First of all, a relevant quote for this post:
“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Onions – Intertwined Beauty
Things Aren’t Always What They Seem – Onions
Although these are plants, I could not help thinking of two posts Tim Price did on his blog this spring: Lizard Love and Snakes in Love. Nature is so full of interwining, whether you interpret them as the same or opposite in plants and animals.
In addition to the two onions in the three images above, a small one especially caught my eye. Most of all, it seemed so elegant in its simplicity.
This beautiful new photography book was a gift from a dear friend earlier this month. I have found it to be a source of inspiration for reassessing my own photography, as well as just a joy to view. I do not ordinarily use posts here to promote the work of others. However, I think some of you will enjoy this book as much as I have, and I wanted to let you know about it. This Land: An American Portrait by Jack Spencer with foreword by Jon Meacham:
My Amazon Review
This magnificent volume of some 140 photographic images spans thirteen years and the Lower 48 States. Begun in 2003, partially as a response to 9/11, this photographic essay, with intense and raw beauty, is a search for meaning by a photographic artist. The images as they came out of the camera were a starting point for creating images Spencer saw in his “mind’s eye.” This is not a glossy travel brochure with beautiful travel images designed to entice tourists to visit, jump out of the car, take a snapshot, and move on to the next spot. Indeed, it is the exact opposite. These are images over which to linger, to contemplate what the artist was thinking as he created each image and what he hoped to show us. These are images that open the mind and encourage the viewer to look deeply and differently at the world around him/herself. What is the meaning of each image, and, taken as a whole, what do they say about the meaning of America? There are probably as many answers as there are viewers of the book.
Jon Meacham, in his Foreword, writes of what he finds “surprising images” in the book. Those were not surprising images to me. I live in “The Land of Enchantment,” which, in some ways, is still a frontier. But Spencer’s treatment of images from places I know, such as Truchas and Cerrillos, New Mexico, made me see them in a different way. This is a book that will influence my photography going forward.
Spencer is saddened, appalled that the majority of people he encountered seemed to be unaware of the beauty around them: “I was constantly stunned by the sheer volume of sleepwalking masses.” And, “…a phrase from the Gnostic Gospels of Thomas does come to mind: ‘The kingdom of heaven is spread out across the earth but men do not see it.’” I was not surprised when he noted that sometimes the beauty was so great he knew no camera could capture it, and that he would watch a scene, with camera packed.
I was fortunate to receive the book as a gift from a friend who knew the images would speak to me. Photographers and artists will find much to enjoy here. People who have quietly enjoyed the beauty of this country, whether in their own back yards or along country back roads or in local, state, or National Parks, or anywhere, for that matter, will find the book and its images offer a chance for reflection about many facets of life. Those groups are a natural audience. But, a group to whom I would especially recommend this book are parents with children of all ages. Study the images and your responses to them. Show them to your children, and let them tell you what they see. Discuss the history of this country, and the magnificent beauty there for the seeing. Help them open their eyes, not just to look, but to see. Five stars.
If you have the time and interest, take a look at this beautiful landscape photography book, available at Amazon and elsewhere. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Pomegranates: fruit of myths; regular readers here – thank you! – are familiar with the myth of Persephone. Enjoyable for eating today, they are also wonderful photographic subjects.
Pomegranates: Fruit of Myths
“And the pomegranates, like memories, are bittersweet as we huddle together, remembering just how good life used to be”
Author: Guadalupe Garcia McCall
“So where does the name Adam’s apple come from? Most people say that it is from the notion that this bump was caused by the forbidden fruit getting stuck in the throat of Adam in the Garden of Eden. There is a problem with this theory because some Hebrew scholars believe that the forbidden fruit was the pomegranate. The Koran claims that the forbidden fruit was a banana. So take your pick—Adam’s apple, Adam’s pomegranate, Adam’s banana. Eve clearly chewed before swallowing.”
Author: Mark Leyner
The pomegranate as a fruit and in myths and religion has a very long history throughout the world. With this image, I wanted to create a “feel” for its Middle Eastern origins as well as a sense of age.
A Note About Photography
As this is a photography blog, I want to mention something all serious photographers know well. That is, cameras do not create images, people do. The camera is but one tool for the creation of photographic images. When I hear, Öh, but so-and-so has a good camera,” I am reminded of an old joke loved by photographers.
A photographer is invited to dinner. During dinner the hostess says, “You do beautiful photography. You must have a great camera.” To which the photographer replies, “The dinner was delicious. You must have a great stove.”
Serious photographers do something with their images daily, most of which are never seen by the world. They learn something each day, be it about their camera, other equipment, or themselves. This affects every image created, going forward.
Life issues have temporarily decreased my blogging time, but not daily photography of some sort. Many thanks to everyone who continues to check in here periodically.
A Found Film Negative from Chaco Canyon, Many Years Ago!
A found film negative – one that I looked for over a couple of years – is something to celebrate! This image of Chaco Canyon was, for many years, the only one of my photographs hanging in the house. A 26×20 inch print remains a fixture in my dining room. Over the years, although long ago, I had given prints as gifts to friends who knew and appreciated the area. This image was taken when Chaco Canyon was just called “Chaco Canyon.” It is now “Chaco Culture National Historical Park” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Great Kiva, Chetro Ketl, Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Several years ago I thought it would be fun to obtain a scan of the 35mm film negative just to play with it in digital form, and perhaps make some smaller prints for other friends. I started going through all the film negatives I could find, which I had never filed in what I now would consider an appropriate manner. I looked everywhere. Film negatives were in multiple places. The negatives were sometimes with different prints. The dates on the folders did not always match the date of the negatives. I had finally given up on finding this particular one, although I found many that I probably should dispose of.
Regular readers here may have noticed I have been on an extended winter break, which will continue on for a bit after this post. (A slight digression – if you visited on January 8 or 9, you may have encountered “the white screen of death.” A Word Press plugin was broken, and I spent much of the evening of January 9 figuring out how to fix this when I could not login to the site, which had gone offline!) In my time off, I have been working hard on decluttering the house, which has taken me into closets and drawers which had not been looked at for some time. Last week – Eureka! – in a small envelope obviously placed in a very safe place, was the negative for this, and three others. The three others were unimportant, they were just attached to the strip that contained this image.
Conversion of a 35mm Film Negative to a Digital Image
I sent the film negative to one of the professional labs I use for large digital prints, not for printing but for scanning. In an email I saw a charge for “mask.” Reading about issues of color in scanning 35mm film to digital, and the use of color masks in the conversion process, interrupted my decluttering. I know a little something about color and digital processing, but this was the first time I really had to stop and think about color in the scanning process. It did make the time seem to go fast, the time I was waiting for the digital CD to arrive.
When the package arrived, I did not open it immediately. That is very unlike me. I set it where I could see it, and continued what I had been doing. After a couple of hours I opened it, and found the four negatives had been separated and placed in their own sturdy envelopes, along with their attached masks. This was all new and interesting to me.
Finally, I put the CD in the computer, and copied the images to a file on my hard drive. I then opened the images in Lightroom. That was the first time I was absolutely certain I had found the 35mm film negative I had been searching for for a couple of years. This is the image of Chaco Canyon that I carry in my head. The image that you are seeing here is one that I “color corrected” to my memory and to the print that has been hanging in my house for years. The color corrected one from the lab was too bright and shiny. 🙂
Working with the image on the computer, I noticed a lot of flaws. Only one can I blame on the age of the negative improperly stored for many years. I had to go look at the print, and I was more than a little surprised that all but one of the flaws I see now were there all the time on the print. I also had to learn at an emotional level something I knew at an intellectual level: film grain and digital noise are two very different things.
Do the flaws in this found film negative change how I feel about the image? Yes and no. I doubt I’ll be making large prints as gifts, and I won’t be entering it for jurying for shows. But this is how I see Chaco, a place I loved from the first time I was there, spring of 1966. It is a place where even people who are not particularly religious feel the spirituality and power of the land. I have been very fortunate to be there multiple times when there were not many other people around. This image reminds me of so much that is very personal to me. I am glad to have it now in a form in which I can work with it. Friends may get small prints, or I may use it on note cards. It represents a part of my life that shaped who I am now. Just a personal bias, but I also like this image as much as any of the images of Chetro Ketl posted on the Park Service site.
In Today’s World
If you have never been to Chaco Canyon, it may be hard to imagine the power that this place has, even to a casual visitor. I close with a link to an op-ed piece written by two young people with ancestral ties to the land.
Black and White Photography: ANMPAS Presents “Shades of Gray” December 4 – 27, 2016 at ExpoNM
Black and white photography as the sole focus for the December ANMPAS show is new this year. All of the ANMPAS (Annual New Mexico Photographic Arts Shows) shows feature New Mexico photographers. The December show has been a general show, with color and black and white images. The April show (Insight-NM) has featured women artists of New Mexico.
Organizer LeRoy Perea is changing things up a bit this year. December 2016 is “Shades of Gray.” April 2017 will be the standard ANMPAS show. December 2017 will be “Insight-NM.”
Shades of Gray Black and White Photography Show
The show is closed December 24 and 25. Otherwise, it is open from 10:00am – 5:00pm December 4 – 27. The show itself is free. ExpoNM may charge parking on weekends or during special activities. All images are framed gallery style and all are for sale.
Those of you who read here often (Thank You!) know that, as a photographer, I am basically a colorist. To my eye, the colors of New Mexico demand that of me. But, every now and then, I do see things in black and white. I have always seen these boots, handmade by my son, in monochromes. When I realized he planned to come for the holidays and might be able to see the show, I entered this image. I was very happy that it was juried in. Many thanks to the jurors.
“Beware Barbed Wire.” Custom handmade cowboy boots by Brandt Graham, with fancy stitching and inlaid silver leather.
If you are in the Albuquerque area in December, consider visiting this black and white photography show, “Shades of Gray.” I am very happy to be included in this show.
Persephone at Berlin Foto Biennale 2016 and 4th Biennial of Fine Art & Documentary Photography
Persephone at Berlin Foto Biennale 2016 is something those of you who also read on Face Book know about, but many of you who are loyal readers here may not know about. The show runs in Berlin, Germany from October 6 -30, 2016, at the Palazzo Italia
“My Fate, By Choice,” from the series, “Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma” is my image for this large photography show. “Emotions and Commotions” is the show theme.
My Fate, By Choice
I was surprised when I received an invitation right after Christmas to participate. I did not remember entering any competitions that would qualify for this exhibition. But, I checked my records and followed the links. I had indeed entered some things in January 2015, right after I got back from Texas to be with my son. Brain fog consumed me at that point. I am surprised I entered things at all.
Almost as surprising to me was the variety of the three images invited to be exhibited.
The Three Invited Images
Many of you here are familiar with “The Road Less Traveled.” This is in the Rio Grande Valley a little south of Albuquerque. It was a serendipitous view discovered when I missed the turn, and after driving for a bit, turned around to see if I could find the correct turn. This view appeared when I turned around. The trip was one of the “photographic excursions” on the birthday Tim Price and I share. The photograph has special meaning.
The Road Less Traveled
This floral is certainly typical of my florals. As such, I was very pleased to be invited to show it in Berlin.
The third invited image surprised me a lot! Photographers know their work, even when people take the images, cut off the watermarks, and try to cram them into nodes with different aspect ratios. We see it, we frame it, we snap it, we process it. When I saw the third invited image, I thought “oh, that must be mislabeled and belong to someone else.” It certainly is not typical for me. After looking at it for a bit, I realized I made the photograph as part of a workshop taught by LeRoy Perea and Dennis Chamberlain. I hope they are pleased that an image from that workshop was selected to be shown in Berlin.
New Mexico Marilyn
This is a tee shirt display at a flea market. Most of the images are of Marilyn Monroe, with a distinct New Mexico twist. There is Day of the Dead Marilyn, a variety of Our Lady of Guadalupe Marilyns, and a couple of her famous poses not given New Mexico flavor. I think the choice of this image speaks to the universal appeal of Marilyn Monroe.
In 2012, I had displayed three images at the 2nd Biennial of Fine Art & Documentary Photography, held that year in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I thought about that show, and I thought about these three new images chosen for the 2016 show. At the time the invitation came, I was still working on processing and interpreting the Persephone images. I knew that work was different from anything I had done before. That was the work I wanted to show in Berlin, and this was the one image I wanted to show: Persephone at Berlin Foto Biennale 2016.
The curators were very helpful when I explained what I would like to do. I’m really delighted and honored to have the opportunity to show this image in Berlin in the 4th Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography.
By the end of May all the details that had to be taken care of at my end for Persephone at Berlin Foto Biennale 2016 were done.
The Steve McCurry Controversy
Some of you may know Steve McCurry as the photographer of “Afghan Girl,” a National Geographic cover. He is an extremely well known photographer. Kodak gave him the last roll of Kodachrome produced, because the company thought he would make good use of it.
In the spring of 2016, he became embroiled in something of a scandal when it was discovered he had photoshopped not only one but several images. Photographic artists make extensive use of photo editing and photo enhancing, photojournalists do not. Sometimes a thin line separates the two.
I did not know until sometime in August that part of this show would be a Retrospective by Steve McCurry. Additionally, he will be giving the dinner speech and participating in some of the press conferences. I personally doubt he would be participating to this extent without the controversy, but it works for me. It should be a well attended show.
Photographic Memories and the Joy in Finally Processing Old Files
Photographic memories are so wonderful. Maybe other people have photographic recall and never need old photographs to remind them of great times in their lives. I am really enjoying finding heretofore hidden treasures in photographs from the past that are just now getting processed.
Many of you who read here know that my mom and I have enjoyed many photographic outings with Tim and Laurie Price. I even met some of you through Tim’s blog. These images are from October 2014. I’m finally getting around to processing some of them. The images brought back memories of good times not only on this day, but of many other good times shared.
Rose Photography – Judges Class Winner in the 2015 American Rose Society Digital Photography Competition
Rose photography – what led me to study and learn digital photography in 2008. I was an ARS Accredited Horticulture and Arrangement Judge when I wrote about adding photography to our rose shows for the ARS 2010 ARS Rose Annual.
My interests in photography have certainly led me, and will continue to lead me, to explore many more aspects of my world and life through photography.
I would like to thank the members of special committee who selected this image, “Rose ‘Gold Medal’ with Butterfly,” as the winner of the Judges Class of the 2015 American Rose Society Digital Photography Contest.
Rose ‘Gold Medal’ and Hair Streak Butterfly Winner, Judges Class, 2015 ARS Digital Photography Contest
This image has special meaning to me. The ‘Gold Medal’ was grown by my mother, and it is one of her favorite roses. It was photographed near sunset in her garden. The hair streak butterfly is a macro shot taken in the garden of my friends Tim and Laurie on a glorious afternoon in Corrales. I have so many pleasant memories of both gardens, and I wanted to unite them in one image. On a personal level, that is what was behind the creation of this image.
On a rose photography level, I wanted to create an image that used a lot of photo editing and photo enhancements but ended with an image of a beautiful rose and a feeling of a presence in a beautiful garden. One of my pet peeves is the use of Photoshop filters to create with one click of a mouse an image that smashes a rose beyond all recognition. The uninitiated seem to find those impressive, but they do not know that it is one click of a mouse. Did I ever make images like that? Yes, I did indeed. But I would like to see us encourage images that are a bit more creative and that show the beauty of the rose. Do I expect them to be as complex in creation as this image that appears so simple was? No, of course not. But I recently saw a gorgeous image of a rose on fallen leaves of autumn, creatively arranged, magnificent in color, that was passed over for a one-click abstract. I’d like to see our judges – and photographers – begin to rethink the approach to “rose art” to go beyond the one-click Photoshop filters.
Once again, I thank the people who selected this as the winner in the Judges Class, 2015. It is an honor.
Friends and photography are not the first combination that comes to mind for many serious photographers preparing for a day of creating photographs. Photographers like to spend their time looking at things, from all angles, up close, from a distance, etc., often things that many people find less than interesting to begin with. But, if you are really lucky, you might find friends you really enjoy being with for a day of exploring what’s out there in the world to enjoy and to photograph.
Many readers here know Tim and Laurie from their blogs, Photo of the Day, and TandLPhotos. Over the years, what began as an occasional friendship around one hobby interest (roses) became a multidimensional friendship in many aspects of life.
We’ve done a variety of “photo excursions” and “photographic expeditions,” days that start with a general plan and always evolve into just going with the flow, seizing what the day had to offer. Tim and I share the same birthday, and we’ve always tried to plan an outing for the weekend closest to that day. It just didn’t work out for many reasons in 2015, and yesterday was the first day in some time that Tim, Laurie, and I were out to capture the moment together. It was not at all planned as a “photo excursion.” But, as many times in the past, the day became a photo excursion.
Over the next few days and weeks I plan to post a variety of images from yesterday. But this post is to honor a day of friendship, of being with people who honor the joy of living each day fully.
The “excuse” at the start of the day was the 3rd Annual Corrales Rose Society Dr. Huey Tour. But, the day became so much more.
Laurie, the artist
Laurie with HUGE Dr Huey
Tim, the photographer
Tim Price, Photographer, Getting That One Bloom of ‘Altissimo,’ Backlit
Tim Price, Photographer
Tim with HUGE Dr Huey
The Old San Ysidro Church and Cemetery
Old San Ysidro Church, Corrales
Old Corrales Church Cemetery, with Tim and Laurie
At Tim and Laurie’s
Butterfly on Purple Salvia
Iris in Foreground, Rose ‘Dr Huey’ in Background
Spunk, one of Tim and Laurie’s seven cats. He looks so sweetly innocent, but don’t be fooled. 🙂 He is an extremely intelligent, curious cat, which has gotten him into a bit of trouble. He has destroyed enough things that he has a running tab and has to model to help pay down his debt. He is very accommodating as a portrait model. 🙂
Spunk, One of Tim and Laurie’s Seven Cats. Don’t Be fooled by That Adorably Innocent Look
Yesterday was a wonderful day with friends and photography.
Spring will eventually come. Although it may not seem like it this weekend, with the record-breaking blizzard on the East Coast, warm bright days with green trees and flowers are ahead. Here in New Mexico, the winter, so far, has not been bad, although who knows what will happen over the next couple of months. The increasing daylight hours can already be seen and felt.
Spring Will Come
In the fall of 2015, when I was introduced to the Persephone myth, I’m sure that I was initially attracted to its explanation of Winter, of which I am not fond and never have been, and its promise of Spring. After all, Persephone is the Greek Goddess of Spring. When she returns to Earth from the Underworld and her obligations as wife of Hades and Queen of the Underworld, she brings with her Spring and its glorious days.
This weekend I encountered an interesting article over at Digital Photography School that talks about photographing with meaning.
There comes a point, or a plateau, as in every photographer’s career (whether you are an intermediate or professional photographer) where you hit a wall. It’s a crisis of self that you are faced with when you have reached a certain point of technical proficiency. Well, basically you hit a plateau because you already know […]
To be perfectly honest, I had not consciously thought about being in the winter of a “crisis of self” in terms of photography. At some level I knew that I was at a plateau and had been for some time, but I did not have time to worry about it because of so many family life crises I had to deal with in the past year and a half. I try to photograph something every day to keep up my skills, and almost every day I learn something new about photography. But, I did not sit down and plan to do something different; I did not think I had time to fit thinking about something like that into my life at the moment.
I’m not really certain exactly how a casual mention of the Persephone myth in an email from friend Jim Stallings set off the photography frenzy that followed, but it did. Within two weeks I had done a short series inspired by it, using my well known subjects of sunflowers and butterflies. Once that was done, however, I began to think of a series involving a model to tell a portion of the Persephone myth. Although I had worked with a model on someone else’s project in the past, and although at one time I did maternity portraiture, I had never hired a model I chose for a conceptual project. I wasn’t even sure how to go about it. But almost, as if by magic, the perfect model appeared. I shocked myself by walking up and asking her if she would be a photographer’s model and, almost as surprisingly, she agreed.
With Persephone, Greek Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld as both a starting point and inspiration, this conceptual photographic series also became an exploration of the meaning of being female with both body and mind. What began as a small personal project for this photographer also became a search for meaning of self, reflecting back on life as a woman, anthropologist, and obstetrician-gynecologist. I didn’t consciously set out “to photograph with meaning,” but it is a series that came to have a lot of meaning to me personally, whether it does to anyone else or not. In the first month of 2016, I surprised myself again by publishing a small Kindle Book. (That added another surprise. While poking around on Amazon, I found a copy of a book, Anthropologists at Home in North America, in which I had published one of my early anthropology papers . That was a bit of shock, and definitely a pleasant reminder.)
I feel like a new spring has arrived for me in my work as a photographer. Today, I cannot say where things will go from here. Kelly Angerosa, my model for Persephone, and I will work together in the spring. I’m looking forward to that next adventure!