Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Clouds

Clouds capture my imagination no matter the setting. I will try to put into words some of the why that has compelled me to photograph these clouds. I will try to create a literary contrast between the Northwest’s Cumulus and the Southwest’s Cirrus Clouds. Clouds make up the oceans of our atmosphere they are transitory by nature; they are sky waves that ripple upon the winds and thermal currents in the air. They embody change for they are constantly in flux. Like yin and yang, they are cold and hot. To really capture the essence of clouds requires passionate anticipation, passionate intuition. Clouds symbiotically pour rain down into the oceans below, where it’s then recycled and sent back above and beyond. This recycling is epitomized in earth’s cycle of life, of death, and beyond. It is this beyond that Clouds so personify. “Northwest cumulus clouds play a definitive role in terms like “Big Sky” or “God’s Country”. These Cumulus Clouds seem to have been chiseled out of large globs of albino clay and smacked down with temerity; splattering-clumping onto this canvas we call sky. Covering the sky-canvas this cloud clay is then sculpted and chiseled with the acumen of the Gods”. Southwest Clouds often appear more subtle, more measured. Still they’re capable of extending their presence across, even beyond the horizon. In the Southwest cirrus (stratus) clouds often stretch across the horizon as if one long translucent sheet of rice paper were stretched out upon the walls of one’s living room. These clouds compliment and interweave themselves into this cohesive fabric we call sky rather than define it. Clouds here work more in conjunction with the landscape rather than acting as its predominant feature. There soft, fluffy, or billowing, yet their uniform surfaces accentuate the landscape rather than defining it as in the Northwest.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Slaughterhouse Attic #1, June, 2007

On my Artistic Process - Progression

On my Artistic Process -Progression

Red Rim Wilderness Area, BLM Land, Wyoming, 1920’s Sheep Slaughterhouse 2007

Having first discovered this locale some eight years earlier I would return season after season, and year after year. At first I'd visit Red Rim without a thought of working or developing a cohesive body of work based on this site. I initially came for a good hike and maybe a few images of interesting terrain. Doing so I came away somewhat satisfied, if nothing else just the uniqueness of the sight intrigued me. To see men’s names and stories written out on the dank wooden walls dating back to 1923 was amazing. These men some immigrants, some native, some white, signing their names along with the locations of the countries or continents they called home was unique.

After a few visits I began to develop themes in my shooting and would return repeatedly to continue pursuing them. Over time I began to develop a feel for the place. What mood I wanted to set on the 40 minute hike in, anticipating what area to focus on a particular trip depending on the weather and my mood at the time. The hike in gave me time to set the thematic visual and working tone if you will of my days shooting. More often than not I came away satisfied and fulfilled in the process but not in the end result photographically.

After several years I began to feel more comfortable and familiar with the progression of my process and realized I was again winning by losing because these trips were essential in my developmental process as an artistic photographer as well as a person. I was able to understand this early on as I’d been through this seemingly Serendipitous transformation before as a runner, and then as a martial artist. Having been through this seemingly unproductive developmental state previously I was able to allow myself to let go of the emotional and egotistical craving for something tangible for myself and others and just enjoy the failure knowing it was giving me so much more.

Eventually I had a breakthrough photographically, almost akin to being in the zone athletically. Heading out I decided I wanted to shoot one particular slaughterhouse and would create a serious of images specifically in B&W this time; as opposed to converting to B&W as an afterthought in post processing. So I turned up Mile’s Kind of Blue and set it on repeat and just worked, milked the process, focused without forcing it.

I knew I was going to create a group of photographs inside this slaughterhouse; especially it being midday the light would be uncharacteristically perfect for what I had in mind and had failed at repeatedly previously. Having failed previously allowed me to understand and visualize how to overcome and succeed this day. Now I had an understanding of how to work this shoot and avoid the pitfalls that had plagued me prior. I needed that harsh direct sunlight, to produce the contrast against the wood grain especially in B&W. I felt like the camera was an extension of my body, my brush, my electronic easel. I had no need to chimp. Just shot, and not liberally either I shot modestly since I knew just what I was trying to capture, I was in The Zone.

I walked away knowing feeling I had been fulfilled both emotionally with the process and artistically with the photographic outcome. I felt, I knew my work had borne fruit; fruit that I thought the world would appreciate, but for the first time as a photographer I knew even if the world thought my work in this soon to be portfolio was without merit it did not matter I knew from prior life experience as a person an athlete, a martial artist that this was what being a photographer was all about for me to have those moments of being in the zone and knowing you could do no wrong for that short period of time I was focused and utterly immersed on the task at hand, and nothing else mattered for just a little while.

To know the moment had been captured and this place artistically represented and to feel the self satisfaction and euphoria that accompanies it was enough.