Sunday, February 25, 2024

Best in Class: The Still Life Edition

Butternut Squash, East Conway, NH, October 2. 2003

Faded Roses, Bethlehem, NH,  August 12, 2005

Pave, Salzburg, Austria, April 10, 2006

In the early innings of my digital photography adventure I focused, no pun intended, on still lifes and headshots. Today we’ll journey back to the former which I titled Alignment. The Intimate Landscape might have been a better choice. I may change it.

Tubular, Colebrook, NH, September 26, 2006

Silvery Leaves, San Marino, California, April 26, 2007

Muffler Art, Rinconada, NM, March 7, 2008

This look back arises from inventorying dozens of framed or matted images dating back to my film to digital transition in the spring of 2002. That's when I bought the first high- resolution digital camera, the legendary Canon 1Ds, for just south of $8,000. That’s $13,887 in today’s dollars if you must know. I know you’ve read this story of my spendthriftyness several times and have asked yourself why anybody would do that. The answers are (1) I could and (2) it was the transformative high resolution DSLR camera of the time. The camera solidified Canon as the leader in digital photography. Those long gray lenses you see at every photojournalistic event in the world are Canons. 

But back to perusing still life photography in those pixel counting years, I was organizing my inventory and selecting images for my current Sketches of Winter Revisited show at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art in Taos when I pulled out a framed 24”x30” Butternut Squash. Peggy told me, “That’s still one of my favorites of yours. We should bring it home and hang it.”

The circumstances of Butternut Squash are etched in my memory. Peggy and I had just attended the Fryeburg Fair in Fryeburg, Maine. On the way back we stopped at a farm stand in East Conway, NH in a persistent drizzle, so the sky was overcast, and the bins of squash were softly lit and glistened with dew. The light caressed the squash, and each one was perfect and lush. I photographed the bins from directly above, perfectly square to the bin. The result was rich and voluptuous.

The others in this post are from the family of digital still lifes made from 2003 through 2008. It occurs to me as I write this that I offered a boxed set of still lifes like these at the Boxed Set Gallery in Santa many years ago. I, like Stieglitz and gallery owner Steve Zeifman, revere a handsome boxed presentation replete with white gloves. Yes, there were white gloves in my box. I still have the relic. Somewhere.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Sketches of Winter Reviewed

Saturday night was the opening of Sketches of Winter Revisited, my minimalist ode to short days, bone chilling temperatures and fresh snow. While assembled from images made from 2007 through 2010 the series still felt as unique and relevant as it did 17 years ago. That’s according to me, of course.

Sketches of Winter Revisited at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art in Taos

A boy and his toys

Peggy and Steve as their 57th approaches in March

That little number is Inky Shadows. It might be my favorite from the series. And it looks like its name methinks.

The takeaways from the opening are these. It was lightly attended, and sales were scant. One sale was to a dear friends and collectors who may have taken pity on me. Which isn’t to say that they didn’t think highly of the photograph. The couple, both extraordinary artists, chose Porcupine but, more broadly, loved the entire series. Thanks to Nancy and Hiroshi.

Porcupine as displayed

The original image as conceived at the height of land on Brazos Pass

And to the subject of appreciation, responses from the sparse but discerning audience were the most enthusiastic I’ve ever experienced. And that soothed the sting of poor sales at least to a point. I was once asked “What’s more important to you recognition or sales?” I answered, “Yes.”

Among the few attendees were zero sisters and brothers of photography. There wasn’t a single Taos photographer in the throng. That stung. I knew beforehand that three local photographers couldn’t attend for serious health and family reasons. They get a pass. Just the most stalwart friends and supporters made the effort and I want them to know how much it meant to me. I try to show support to all the serious photographers in my life and will redouble my efforts to recognize their efforts. In that spirit I drove to Santa Fe Sunday for a presentation by my colleague E.E. McCollum at Edition One Gallery. He and I are regular contributors to Shadow and Light Magazine. And a week ago Saturday I attended a reception for a bevy of fine if old photographers at the very same gallery, Edition One. It's a newish establishment at the top of arty Canyon Road that emphasizes but is not limited to photography. I recommend a visit. And you should also check out their just launched Leica and Scotch photography discussion series. Yesterday’s conversation with Eric McCollum as interviewed by fellow photographer Mark Berndt was fast paced, wise, inspiring and funny. I see Leica and Scotch in your future, metaphorically speaking of course.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Valdez, a snapshot of El Norte

Iglesia San Antonio, 1823

Iglesia San Antonio

Iglesia San Antonio

The Valdez Morada, a Penitente lay chapel

Between tax prep, an upcoming show, Sketches of Winter Revisited, and general frittering there’s been too little photography and even less writing of late. And it’s now been four trips to Santa Fe, mostly for art related missions in the past two weeks. Those trips are time eaters.

What I do have are shots from a recent photo safari to the village of Valdez which lies north of Des Montes in a lush valley below the Rim Road that connects Des Montes and Arroyo Seco. It’s the picture of rural Hispanic New Mexico. The tarmac alongside the morada winds half a mile to where it merges with the road to the Taos Ski Valley.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

The High Road

Iglesia San Antonio, Cundiyo, NM

Red Roof Inn, Ojo Sarco, NM

When you live in Taos you find yourself driving back and forth to Santa Fe a lot. Were it not for Amazon it might be daily. I did it three times last week. It’s all surface roads so the 70 miles each way takes 1:15 on your best day. Yes, I speed. Then, of course, is the sheer boredom of the route after so many repetitions. So, every fourth time or so I take the High Road back to Taos. The winding route winds through Hispanic mountain villages little touched by time or so it feels. Under the gaze of the rugged Sangre de Cristos villages with musical names like Chimayo, Las Trampas, Truchas and Ojo Sarco look like Spanish hill towns in a distant century. Or as a friend told me when I asked why she moved to New Mexico after 20 years as a nurse in Nepal, “It’s the closest thing to a third world country that I could find in the U.S.”

Bear left here, Ojo Sarco, NM

San Jose de Gracias, Las Trampas, NM

Entering Truchas, NM

Ojos Blancos, Truchas, NM

Because I’ve driven the High Road approximately 873 times in the last 20 years, I’ve taken at least a handful of decent photographs along the route. Some happened last Wednesday. It wasn’t my best day on El Camino Alto but a few may be worth sharing. These are shown in the order taken from Cundiyo onward to Truchas.

I have designs on a more fulsome exploration of the High Road for the March-April issue of Shadow and Light. That will be called El Camino Alto.