Friday, November 27, 2020

Posing with a Camera: Fail

Monday, November 23, 2020

Capturing the Light: Regarding "The Pencil of Nature"

Here's an interesting 2 paragraphs from Capturing the Light as the authors wrote about Talbot and The Pencil of Nature:

In developing the calotype, he had turned to photographing various locations in and around this home at Lacock and then, with the assistance of his Dutch valet Nicolaas Henneman, whom he trained himself, taking the process on the road nad photographing the picturesque architecture of Oxford and Paris. He executed a few portraits and group shots, but, typical of Talbot's reserved nature, it was the landscape and cityscape that attracted his interest. In 1844 he set to work on disseminating the details of the calotype process, by devising a book, to be published in serial form as six individual booklets or fascicles, each containing actual photographic prints from his own calotype negatives. This series was called The Pencil of Nature and its purpose was twofold: first to bring the calotype to the public attention by showing that photographs could be published in book form; and second, to set out and describe the various modes in which Talbot believed that photography in the long term would prove most useful. These included views of architecture; landscapes; still lifes; the cataloguing of scientific objects; genre scenes; and the copying of works of art. He did not include portraiture, no doubt thinking in terms of the scientific rather than personal or recreational use of his process. Perhaps he wished to elevate the calotype above portraiture, which to him seemed the realm of the everyday, jobbing photographer and not that of the artist. Or perhaps Talbot himself had privately recognized that the better results in portraiture were achieved by the daguerreotype, and that it was sensible therefore not to engage in direct competition with it in this respect.

In order to provide the great quantity of pictures that he intended to include in The Pencil of Nature, Talbot worked closely with Henneman, whom he had not promoted to full-time photographer. They set up a printing studio at Reading, about halfway between Lacock and London. Known as the Reading Establishment, it was able to turn out dozens, if not hundreds, of prints every day (certainly in sunny weather) and had no problems producing the images needed for Talbot's book. Sadly though, the series was not a success and in April 1846 Talbot had to abandon it after only six issues, despite a small review in The Times 'earnestly commend[ing] this work to notice of the public'. What remains of The Pencil of Nature, however, is a thing of exquisite beauty. The cover for each fascicle was an intricate image by Owen Jones, an influential designer whose interest in Arabic geometric designs was beautifully combined with neo-Gothic fonts and flourishes to create the distinctive look of the series. Overall it contained twenty-four Talbot calotypes, many of which now are iconic in the history of early photography. The few surviving copies of the entire series today are, of course, worth many thousands of pounds.

Throughout the Capuring the Light, I was struck many times with how insignificant certain "discoveries" or ideas were 170-180 years ago that today we can look back upon and know that those discoveries set us up for where we currently are. Many were brushed under the rug at the time. But I suppose you know what they say about hindsight...

Here's my modern edition of The Pencil of Nature that I just had to purchase:

Thursday, November 19, 2020

One Last Shot from the "International Exhibition 2020" at The Glasgow Gallery of Photography

The Glasgow Gallery of Photography shared a few more images from the "Internation Exhibition 2020," and my image appeared in one of them:

That's my piece in the top middle on the grid of 9. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Here's a link to a video of the exhibition, and here are more photos of the exhibition.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Then & Now: 25 Years of MCAD MFA

I was recently featured in the Minneapolis College of Art and Design's (MCAD) MFA 25th Anniversary Catalog. I graduated from the MCAD MFA program in 2005. Here are a few photos I made of the catalog:

[click each image to enlarge]

A detail inside the cover. My name is in the middle surrounded by some quality human beings.

Our graduating class had 2 people featured: Bethany Kalk and this spread of my "then & now" images.

Thanks for featuring me, MCAD MFA! I miss those years cranking out work in graduate school...

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Photographing the Moon


Sunday, November 01, 2020

Monthly Challenge 10 of 12: The Mississippi River Drawdown at 4 a.m.

In case you're not local and/or haven't heard, we had some fun sights over at the Mississippi River in Minneapolis last month. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were inspecting the dams at Saint Anthony Falls, so they opened the lower dam and let the river drop to a level I’d never seen before - I heard a news source say it was 12 feet down (and that's from the height that it's REGULATED at, so there's little variation in its normal height). It was totally surreal, and it caused crowds to come see it. Here's an instagram post (just some iPhone shots) I made on Oct 9th:

Took the boys to check out the “drawdown” between the dams tonight. They thought it was pretty epic (their word). It’s filling up again, and it’s maybe 2 feet up since I was there at 4 a.m. this morning. Quite the scene.

A crowded Stone Arch Bridge around 6 p.m.

The water to the left was there 14 hours prior, but the water
in the right/middle wasn't - it had started filling back up.

This is usually all underwater.

We found a crayfish crawling around.

St. Anthony Falls in the distance.

Walking into Father Hennepin Park (all this stone is usually shallow, but underwater).


Heading home.

I went to Google Maps and found some images to show a bit what it USUALLY looks like:

That's the Stone Arch Bridge. All that water north of the bridge was
gone (that was the pic when we were walking into Fr. Hennepin Park).
In fact, there was only water in the lower left corner of this image.

For a few days last month, the bottom 1/3 of this image
was all beach (which is 3/4 of the visible water here).

There would have been virtually NO water visible in this pic during the drawdown.

Father Hennepin Park: this was all stone and sand.

During the drawdown from a TPT article: the view south of the Stone Arch Bridge.
(180 degrees from the last photo.)

Google already has a few views of the drawdown uploaded!

I stopped by 2 times to take photos for my 4 a.m. series, which is rare. It's not all that uncommon for me to think "oh, I didn't QUITE get the shot," but it's rare for me to go to the same place in back-to-back "4 a.m. outings," and unheard of for me to go to the same place just 2 days apart.

First I stopped by on Oct 7th, but there were a LOT of people around at 4 a.m., and at least some of them were on something. Others were there with angle grinders looking for metal to sell for scrap. Others had headlights and were looking for treasures. Here's a picture I made that morning before being scared off:

[click these following images to enlarge]

Then I got a photo of the fall colors from under the Hennepin Ave Bridge from Nicollet Island:

I went back 2 days later on the 9th because I wanted to capture more. I knew there was more I wanted to get. I asked someone to come with me (for at least some slight "safety in numbers"), which is something I've thought about before, but never actually done. But he was afraid of being too tired at work that day (understandably so) and decided not to. And because the drawdown was technically over (I think they closed the lower dam the night before), there weren't nearly the same number of people down there - I only saw 3 guys carrying some scrap, and 1 waved to me which made me not nearly as concerned about them. (You have to understand that I'm used to having the city to myself when I photograph mid-week during the 4 a.m. hour. Having all these people around was disconcerting to me.)

This is the driftwood you can see in the satellite view (normally surrounded by water).

Way down to the river, across a block or 2 of beach that usually isn't there.
(Past 5 or 6 arches of the bridge that are usually all underwater.)

The "under bridge lights" (which normally are NOT on this time of day)
turned off around 4:30 a.m., so I was able to make some lower-contrast images.

That slight blue cast on the bridge in the distance is from the I35W bridge lights nearly a 1/2 mile away.

That was a fun "study" that I wasn't used to doing. It was interesting to "take in" an enviroment, think about it for 2 days, and then come back to try it again. I've never worked like that before, and now it's sure become a new option for making my 4 a.m. photographs.

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