Topic: Northwest (34 posts) Page 1 of 7

Moses Lake 2

Odd. You would think the short series called Moses Lake 2 would be preceded by Moses Lake 1. But it is not.

Let me give you a little context. In the 90s I was steaming on several fronts. Still shooting in black and white 8 x 10, I was making yearly trips to photograph in the wheat field country of the Palouse in eastern Washington. But I was also shooting with the Superwide Hasseblad mostly handheld.

In those days I often would fly west to Seattle or Portland and drive back east in a rented car to Colfax or Pullman, which served as a base for ten days or two weeks of photographing in the wheat fields.

Washington is a big state and, once over the Cascade Mountains, it is dry and desert-like. Inevitably, after several of these trips driving east I was going over the same territory. Driving on Rt 90 I would go right through Moses Lake, a small town in the middle of the State. In the mid-90s the town was experiencing a housing boom. As I was photographing all sorts of housing in those days, I stopped to photograph one development under construction where, I learned, the builder was able to put up a house a week.

Moses Lake 2 was the 2nd time I'd photographed homes under construction in Moses Lake.

The two prevailing characteristics were the water tower and the incredibly black pavement which had just been rolled out, in fact, hot under my feet.

I made Moses Lake 2 prints on Kodak Polymax paper 11 1/2 inches square. They are over matted to 16 x 20 inches and are available for viewing at my studio in Acton, MA by appointment: here.

Oh yes, Moses Lake 1? Didn't make the cut.

Topics: Black and White,Analog,Northwest

Permalink | Posted April 24, 2022


Just a quick note to share that I have aerial work included in the upcoming exhibition titled Above/Below at the Newport (RI) Art Museum opening February 12, 2022

The show is from the Museum's permanent collection. I donated several large pieces last year.

I am honored to be showing with: Richard Benson, Jesse Burke, Gene Dwiggins, Lucas Foglia, Sally Gall, Henry Horenstein, Salvatore Mancini, Barbara Pagh, Aaron Siskind, Teddy Trocki-Ryba, and Jo Yarrington.

Through April 24, 2022

Salt Evaporation Pond #4, Palo Alto, CA 2018

Topics: Northwest

Permalink | Posted January 30, 2022

I Defy You

I defy you not to be seduced by the Palouse. It is as though the region was left off of the "progress train" or that it has avoided so much that we suffer from daily.  The Palouse exists in a bubble of little change with the rural surrounding the urban with oceans of wheat. It is an extraordinary place.

Locals will tell you there is little to do here. I get that but believe if you are inherently visual and get yourself to Spokane, rent a car, drive south on Rt 195 to Colfax or Pullman, book into a motel, rest up and go out just a little before dawn the next morning, head up Rt 27 to the town of Palouse or over to Almota west of Colfax you will be captivated, converted, persuaded and convinced you have arrived at some sort of heaven on earth.

Late June/early July was good this trip, later is good too although it gets hot, too early and there is stubble and dirt, still beautiful but not lush, late after harvest in the fall can be fine, all browns, golds, yellows and deep magenta.

Stay awhile and you will begin to adapt and accept the pace here. A little different, particularly when the two big schools, WSU and MSU, are out for the summer. Slower, less frenetic, people are friendly and amiable, quick to smile, pull your leg or have you on. People less threatened, defensive, on guard and less pushy, if perhaps a little leery of those from the "real world" of cities, office workers, commuters caught in traffic, just not sure what they have in common with "city folk". 

The place could turn a street shooter into a landscape photographer, I swear. 

As you cruise around look for the small green road signs. Those are county gravel roads that are used mostly by farmers to get to their homes or to their fields with their equipment. Often these fade out to a narrower track that is just dirt and often very dusty. Some are so disused they have grass growing in the tracks. Anything unpaved is best, you can stop wherever you like to make your pictures and these dirt roads go everywhere. In earlier years I used to worry I'd get lost, caught for hours trying to retrace my steps or find my way but I learned to just go with it, finding sooner or later I'd hit pavement and that would lead to a town and therefore back to my base.

You will make photographs that look much like mine and many others, for we are not alone out here making art anymore. I am most critical of what most make here for I find cliche, repetition, and pedestrian work the norm. There are a few that raise their work to a higher level, knowing what is really here and how best to utilize it, to craft the fields of the Palouse into strong individual, consummate statements. 

It is all deceptively simple, stop; point your camera at it, click the shutter and you've made a nice picture, I am sure. Because of that and the almost 30 years of photographing out here, I do not take it for granted, assume success or even comprehension, let alone excellence. For this is, on the one hand, easy and on the other very difficult. But I try and work hard, to be fluid and practiced here is good for it serves the work best. One can do fine here through first impression. But to make real work takes time and patience. All too easy on the one hand and exceptionally difficult on the other. Much like photography itself.

So, when you come, try to give yourself some time to acclimate to it, to find its core values and your own proclivities, its inside and essence.

Go to the Palouse. It will blow you away.

Note: I am back as I flew home from Spokane July 9. I am working on files now and will begin making prints soon. I will post the results on the site soon.

Stay tuned.

Topics: Northwest

Permalink | Posted July 11, 2019

A Personal History #2

Continuing a series of posts on my career as a photographer.

By the mid-eighties, I'd been married and divorced, had one child, had owned a home and lost the home, had renovated a house, was teaching both at Northeastern and Harvard and photographed and printed constantly. It was fast times. 

Being on a tenure-track in a university comes with a whole host of requirements as you are under great scrutiny. I was exhibiting frequently and at increasingly prestigious places, I was shooting and printing constantly, my work was being published in periodicals, I was receiving numerous grants and I was presenting at conferences and symposia. I was teaching on the Vineyard and elsewhere in the summers and traveling whenever and wherever I could to make new work. In 1983 I received a one-semester sabbatical and traveled extensively throughout the American southwest photographing.  In 1986 I returned to the southwest to photograph over three months with the 8 x 10 camera. It was significant that I was Northeastern's first photography professor. This put me under some pressure not only to validate my work and myself but to validate that photography was a legitimate academic discipline worthy of study. In 1988 I was tenured at Northeastern University in a unanimous decision. 

#4 Digital

By the early 90's it was clear big changes were coming. I was successful in getting some very expensive scanning equipment donated and we were off and running in very early digital days. Initially, we were just scanning but soon after we were printing too. By 2003 the Photo Program I headed was legitimately on a roll; new courses were on the books, we were hiring new faculty and I was scanning and printing my 8 x 10 and 2 1/4 negatives. And, I had started to work in color. 

My whole creative output from the time I was a student until then had been in black and white. This for the simple reason that I didn't think most color photography was any good.

I had been traveling to the SE corner of Washington starting in 1996 in the summers to photograph the extensive wheat fields there. I had been working in 8 x 10 black and white making minimal, austere and formal studies of essential elements of the landscape.

In 2001 I began shooting in color, initially without much success but by the second year was beginning to get it. As I got better at it and my confidence increased I started exploring color in other aspects of my work and was beginning to print my color work digitally, from scans of my 8 x 10 transparencies.

This was tremendously exciting and motivating, to start as a novice and to be a student again in something new. I believe this is essential for a career artist to stay active and viable. Taking risk is key.

While digital capture (photographing digitally) was still in its infancy in the early 2000's, staying with film, scanning it once processed and then making inkjet prints was a highly qualitative way to work in those earlier years. 

Back at Northeastern, I had now been advised that I should apply to be a full professor, a position I call the "last promotion" for an academic as there isn't anything else after that. While less of a career-threat than tenure, as you aren't fired if you don't get it, the full professorship carries more prestige and establishes that you have "arrived", at least on campus. Think: big shot. I became a full professor at Northeastern in 2003 in a unanimous decision. 

Let's stop here. For the next post I will follow through to my retirement from Northeastern in 2012 and we'll take a look at the work I made from then to the present.

I thank you for your time and for joining me.

Topics: Analog,Digital,Northwest,American Series

Permalink | Posted August 9, 2018

Washed Out

This one is to introduce the new group of pictures on the site called Washed Out (here). And to explain my rationale.

Can wrong be right, can ugly be beautiful, can accuracy be exchanged for interpretation? Something hovering around the question of attempted objectivity versus the purely subjective. 

These washed out and somewhat pink landscapes of the mountains behind Malibu, California are this photographer's effort to describe what it feels like to be driving through the canyons on a midday in midweek, with the sun at full force, no wind, the ground cover bleached out, the soil dusty and like chalk; a somewhat apocalyptic view of a place no doubt influenced by my aerially photographing wildfire damage a few days earlier up the coast in Ventura.

These are, of course, the Santa Monica Mountains.

In initially rendering these in normal colors and tonality I was struck by how they conveyed nothing of the intensity of the light and the dryness. 

I was thinking of how our eyes react when faced with going from someplace dark into a landscape blindingly bright. How the colors are bleached out and monochromatic.

But think about this for a moment. Think about how photography has changed, how its use as an art form has been so drastically redefined in recent years. How the investigation into how it sees and we see has been pushed to new boundaries. Somehow, although I still make them, the straight landscape is over, done to death and how, if the drive must be to see things new, there is nothing new. How the prevailing discipline would need to be an interpretation of surroundings, a molding of the combination of the mediums' use and the content serving the photographer's wishes. This then leads me to the photographer's intention.

One train of thought would appear that we are no longer, in higher levels of art, allowed to leave that up to the viewer to work out. That it would be necessary to drive the outcome more specifically. Hence "Washed Out".

The last point, imagine I made these into a small book, with about 25 pages of images all in this same bleached out tonality. Sit down with a glass of that nice merlot you found in Italy last year, comfortable in your favorite recliner, to look through these pictures, to study them. How fulfilling and rewarding an experience would that be? Would you become invested in the subtlety and nuance of the different images? Feel there is a rhythm, a narrative?  Doubtful. But you might believe that you are looking at a concept, a conceptual rendering, a deliberate distortion of the actual into something made for looking then thinking about what you saw to understand intention. This does get perilously close to a personal politic, doesn't it? For the quality has been sucked out of these images, denied the very basis for our determination of what is a good photograph. Of course, we see this all the time, either by ignorance or by deliberation. 

Is this simply devil's advocacy? Placing these pictures in a place of contrary perspective? This is for you to decide, for I am simply the maker. You are the determiner.

Washed Out:

Comments always welcome:

Topics: Northwest,Digital,Color

Permalink | Posted April 23, 2018