Like many, I’ve spent considerable time reacting to the thoughtlessness with which our elected officials in Washington ignore the truth. Most recently, we were told by our Secretary of Energy that carbon dioxide has nothing to do with the warming of the planet, which is fine because he also feels the planet isn’t warming. But of course it is. The growing season is longer, ice out is earlier and far worse things are happening to places like Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay (it is disappearing) and all over the world. Carbon dioxide and methane are the two gases in our atmosphere responsible for the warming of the planet. That is not a particularly controversial scientific statement. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that the assault on reality seems overwhelming. What does it mean to “resist” that assault?
I have always experienced the power of nature as inevitable which explains my interest in erosion among other things. On a recent trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, thanks to the advice of a friend, we drove along Ocean Blvd., Rt 1-A, new Odiorne Point State Park. New Englanders are pretty used to two kinds of coastlines: sandy beaches and granite. This beautiful stretch of highway has both, in the same location. You can see eroding sand, and massive granite formations touching one another. That granite isn’t going anywhere. Sure, granite can be moved, by glaciers. Anybody, other than the Secretary of Energy expect to see one of those in these parts anytime soon? Probably not. It will indeed erode over very very long periods of time, but so slowly, the water doesn’t represent a tremendous threat. It faces into the sea and the wind, regardless.
I remember once hearing Pete Seeger talk about resistance. He was reflecting on all of the painful times and threats he had witnessed over the course of his life. He didn’t seem to be the least bit deterred by the persistent nature of the forces with which he was engaged. He also didn’t seem fearful or likely to succumb to hopelessness. “We shall not be moved.” (based on the Biblical text, Jeremiah 17:8-9.) Perhaps we expect it to be easy.
I’m grateful to be able to announce a soon to be published portfolio in Black and White Magazine. My work “Lost in the Water” was chosen for a portfolio merit award and will be published this summer. For those who don’t know how such things work, in a portfolio competition, you submit one or more portfolios of as many images as the publication requests, grouped around a particular theme. The interesting question for me has to do with what the editors actually end up choosing to publish. It is almost never would I expect, reminding me once again just how subjective art really is. But no matter, as I said, I’m grateful. Here is my selection of a four favorites from the submission.
These are from a location that has become very special to me, the South Natick, Massachusetts Dam along the Charles River. I was able to work there even though I was pretty ill at the time. The River helped me a great deal and I’m also very grateful for that assistance as well.
If you want to see what the editors chose, you can find their take in Black and White Magazine (the U.S. publication), Issue 177, August 2017. Alas, photography magazines can be hard to find but Barnes and Noble is probably a good bet.
I’m again participating in the Atelier Exhibition at the Griffin Museum of Photography.
Atelier 25 opens tonight and runs through March 31. I want to thank Meg Birnbaum and Amy Amy Rindskopf for leading the exhibition. My work is from the “Lost in the Water Project.”
On display in the Winter Solstice Exhibition at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, Massachusetts, from December 8 through January 1.
Blackstone Canal, Uxbridge, Massachusetts – 2016.
I’ve been striving diligently to simplify my images. I can speculate as to my motivation for doing so, maybe it has something to do with how messy the world is these days. I also have a tremendous fondness for the work of folks such as Michael Kenna. (If you’re serious about photography or art, please hit the link. You will not regret it.) More pragmatically though, this effort requires reducing the number of elements included within the frame. Turns out this is not as easy as it might sound. Life around us is filled with complexity. It is in fact messy. So, much like creating sculpture, you have to keep taking things out. Unfortunately, unlike when working with sculpture, you can’t just pop out a tree. OK, you could with photoshop if the tree is positioned just right and if you’re really good at doing that type of work. The result though still frequently looks as though the image is missing something that was popped out in photoshop. Alternatively,I find that I have to think about a potential image in a new way.
Recently I’ve been spending time at the South Natick Dam along the Charles River in eastern Massachusetts. I find it very restful there. It is also a wonderful place to photograph. On one side of the River you can even sit in the shade while photographing the River in bright, hot sunlight. It’s almost too easy.
But it is not a simple place to photograph. Again, there is a great deal going on. So, as Bill Neil says, you have to edit out reality, often by using a telephoto lens. I once had an exchange with Bill in which I asked him how he might go about managing some issues in a wide angle shot. His answer: “I’d never take a shot like that. Too messy.”
I’ve posted many pictures of flowing water here including in my most recent post. Typically, I want to give the viewer a sense of place by providing the context for the water’s flow. What if you ignore the need for a sense of place, and just explore the water? What you find are structures in the water’s flow. Every photographer who photographs water knows this of course. You can see structure if you shoot at around 1/4 of a second to maybe two seconds. After that, the water just glows, which has a beauty in itself. I’ve become interested in the structures that emerge with just a bit of a slow shutter. What do they reveal? I’ll let you be the judge.