Topic: Northeast (57 posts) Page 1 of 12

New Book

I am very pleased announce that a new book of my photographs is just out (December 2017). Called Trees, Sand & Snow (TS&S) it builds a rational around the idea of  "connection" by linking three separate series of photographs into chapters. These are accompanied with short essays authored by me.

The book is photographs I made a year ago; two bodies of work from Martha's Vineyard and one from a skate park photographed during a snowstorm in Cambridge, MA where I live.

Trees

Sand

Snow

Sometimes the planets align. This is the first time in my career that I've connected specific series to each other to draw analogies and to make a larger whole. The process has been tremendously challenging and rewarding.

I arrived at the idea for the book a couple of weeks after I turned 70. This book is my first that leans heavily on my writing. Since starting the blog several years ago I've worked at become a better writer. Each chapter in TS&S starts with a short essay about the premise of the work and my belief that photographs can connect in both obvious as well as subtle and profound ways.  My  hope being that this would promote readers looking at other works of mine to seek similar connections and then perhaps lead to a deeper understanding of photographic essays in general. 

TS&S is 61 pages, 9.5 x 8 inches, in soft cover and elegantly designed by Andrea Star Greitzer. 

We have printed the new book in limited numbers and I will fulfill orders and ship books myself. Please email me directly if you'd like one (nrantoul@comcast.net). I will sign each book. They are $36 each, plus shipping.

Topics: Books,Digital,Northeast

Permalink | Posted December 13, 2017

New Camera

I have a new camera. If you've read the blog before you know it isn't very often that I discuss equipment. Mostly it seems not so significant to me what kind of camera is used. But there are shifts occurring once again in the industry and this new camera, a Nikon D850, is one of the new tools in digital photography that is moving us ahead.

Edgartown, MA

Although it is difficult to show how good images are online, this 300% crop shows little noise and is quite detailed:

My previous camera, a Nikon D810, had been my primary picture maker for several years. A very good camera, it made files that I could count on:  for quality, for color, for tonality, dynamic range and for sharpness, even at quite big sizes. It wasn't perfect but it never failed me and got the job done, really all I could ask for in a camera in which to make my art.

Since I've only had the new camera a week and made just a few prints, I can't speak to its inherent goodness yet. But it feels right and its MP size is significantly larger, which should allow bigger prints at higher fidelity. Odd that we are so very dependent on a tool to make our pictures, but that's photography.  In my analog days, I was dependent on three tools to make my pictures. Early on the Rollei SL66 was front and center in the 70's, then the Superwide Hasselblad. Then I was wedded to the Toyo Field 8 x 10 for 25 years, connected at the hip to a large, cumbersome and very heavy camera and the three lenses I used ( and the tripod to mount it on!). Now I can get virtually as high a quality image with a camera I can hold in my hand and sling over my shoulder. Dreams do come true sometimes.

Current thought seems to be that large chip DSLR  days are numbered and I can believe that. The D850 is too large and heavy. I also use a full chip mirrorless Sony camera (A7r MK ll) and find it very nice to travel with. It is not as refined as the Nikons but nevertheless capable of wonderful files.

Simply enough, the bar is now very high in terms of the equipment we can use. We are at a high level of maturity in digital imaging and the devices are increasingly sophisticated and impressive in the quality of the results. Is the hype we are barraged with everytime a new camera is announced a true guide of its significance? No, but this one, the Nikon, and the new Sony A7r MK lll are genuine steps forward, I believe.

I have already learned, for instance, that in order to capture everything at the highest of quality you must make sure this new Nikon is held steady. Bring your A game to this tool for it requires it. Marginal quality lenses will not cut it either.

So, my apologies for coming down to earth to speak about equipment in this blog. I assume most of the photographs I'll make for a while will be from this new camera. I am looking forward to sharing new work made from the D850 Nikon with you.

Stay tuned.

BTW: I'll have prints of these images and others at the Allston Open Studios coming up in December.  Hope to see you there.



Topics: Camera,Northeast,Digital,Color,New Work

Permalink | Posted November 29, 2017

Gail Hill

My very good friends, the artist Gail Hill (Website) and her husband Hal Kay from Toronto couldn't make it this fall for a visit to Martha's Vineyard. Via emails and text messages Gail's been bugging me to at least share some pictures with her, since she couldn't be here.

So, here we go:

Oak Bluffs, taken two days after the mass shootings in Las Vegas

I photograph most days while here, usually centering on a specific place, and go back over and over. This time it is Oak Bluffs and it is difficult because it is so very familiar. I have been trying to see it with new eyes, as if for the first time.

Gail Hill is a very special person, with an active art career that spans photography and painting as well as playing a large role as a career advisor and mentor  (Creative Self) to many many in Toronto. She also is a wonderful cook.

Menemsha

I occasionally photograph from my kayak, as above. This falls into the "high risk" category but I try to pick calm water and slight wind. This from Poucha Pond above the famous Dike Bridge on Chappaquiddick where May Jo Kopechne lost her life in the car Ted Kennedy was driving one night after a party.

I hope you like these, Gail. Wish you were here.

Topics: Martha's Vineyard,Color,New Work,Northeast

Permalink | Posted October 4, 2017

Thursday

Let me tell you about this past Thursday. 

Note: There will be a few posts on this one topic. This is a project that combines aerial photographs with ground-based imagery.

While Texas was bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Harvey and Donald Trump was about to pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio I was in Vermont photographing the Connecticut River. Far less newsworthy I admit but nevertheless big in my world. It was quite a day with two distinct parts to it.

Warning: the pictures shown here simply aren't going to do anything for you by seeing them on your phone. I make pictures that are way up there in terms of resolution, sharpness, tonal range and color rendition. When you do get to see them on a good color display you can click on an image and it will expand to a larger rendering.

Part 1

Photographing The River is a project that has crept up on me. There was no thunderbolt of inspiration, no big epiphany here, just the quiet realization that every time I drove over it, or kayaked down it I was fascinated with what it showed me on its banks and what went on behind them.

This harkens back to my project called Tom's Neck from a few years ago. Very often on a shore or embankment on a river, stands a row of trees, acting as a wall or a barrier to what is behind them.

So this summer I've been photographing the river, usually from one shore pointing across at the opposite one, although sometimes from a bridge. Thursday I went up in a plane to get at it from above, starting at RT 2 in Turner's Falls, MA and flying up to Bellows Falls, VT and back. 

My day started here:

at the little airstrip at Turner's Falls.

The day was perfect.

Right away the river opened up to reveal its secrets. Of course, it was magnificent:The Connecticut River is an "old" river along southern Vermont and northern Massachusetts. No rapids or fast water and usually quite wide, with a few islands along the way. The river valley through here is heavy-duty farming country, with large crops of hay and corn but also squash, tomatoes, melons and even hops for beer:

In late August it all comes to fruition. The corn is high and they're practically giving tomatoes away.

As the pilot and I skimmed along at about 800 feet above the water in a high winged Cessna it was easy to follow the river as it meandered north. Since I was in the right seat, I pointed out the open window with my camera at the eastern bank on the way up and the western bank on the way down.

As we approached Brattleboro the river widened out into marshes:

Next up? More aerial photographs of the river and then on to part two of my day. My trip in the excursion boat the Lady Bea with a group from a nursing home.

Turf Farm near Greenfield, MA

Topics: Spring,Color,New Work,Digital,Northeast,Tom's Neck

Permalink | Posted August 27, 2017

Facades

I have had a preoccupation with facades, which, for me, includes fences and walls, for a very long time. In fact, in 1979 I made a series of pictures called Fences and Walls that was my first cohesive group of pictures after finishing graduate school in 1973. Fences and Walls was the body of work that formed the foundation for this way of seeing.

From Fences and Walls 1979

This same approach carried through to some of the mall work I did in 2009-2012.That series was called Mallchitecture and looked at buildings designed for a purpose and function practically devoid of an aesthetic.

Facades played a key role here. My earliest awareness of this interest was a show my work was in at MIT called, oddly enough, "Facades", about 1977. This was when Minor White was still alive. I met the white haired photographer and guru a couple of times and was in awe of his reputation and the depth of his approach. The fact that he had deigned my photograph worthy seemed as if from the hand of God at the time. In those days White curated a concept show every year or so with titles like Light (to the 7th power), Octave of Prayer, Be-ing Without Clothes. 

Photographs of facades, surfaces, fences and walls have been part of  my photographic agenda for a very long time. Was I aware in these early career years I was looking at the world through this specific lens?  That I was consumed by an agenda not on everyone else's list? No, I was not.  I wonder how many people new to the arts are so self aware they know their stock in trade or can access the uniqueness of their point of view in those earlier years? Few, I believe. I also believe this then becomes one of the primary roles teaching needs to play. To acquaint the student with just what it is they are doing, how their work fits into the overall scheme, what precedents there are and the relevance of the premise.

There is another prevailing aesthetic I can track over my career and that is what I call: "Planetality". I know, I've even made a word for it. This is the need, desire or prevailing characteristic of making pictures that exist in planes, most prominently in parallel planes. Stand in front of a building or flat surface, preparing to make a picture of it. Will you make the picture at an oblique angle or point up or down? What drives this in you? Do you not care care that lines converge or that one edge of the building will bow out or in? Or do you wish your pictures to reside in the relative neutrality of not having imposed a specific directionality to them? Again, stand in front of the building, keep your camera level and center yourself so the left and right sides are equidistant and parallel to you holding the camera and you have a picture that is far more neutral, thus allowing the building to dominate, not the signature of the picture of it. Imagine in current times this being a concern! But how you do this affects the outcome.  If the building is too tall or there is too much foreground in your picture? Well, that's what a view camera is for or, in these days in the digital world,  "lens corrections" in Photoshop or, last, a PC lens. The principle is to keep the camera parallel to the surface and shift the lens to raise, lower or slide left or right.

At any rate plane to plane is important to me, not always, but often.

Most of the photographs in this post are from the series called Mallchitecture.


Topics: Digital,Color,Northeast,Vintage,Analog

Permalink | Posted May 19, 2017