Process of a large-format, landscape photographer.

I’ve been asked to give a talk at the Sebastopol Gallery on Feb 3rd at Sebastopol Gallery, at 6:30pm. I’ve only given a few talks. One that stands out, more for the venue than the talk, was in Sydney, Australia in 2006. That was an acceptance speech to a group of about 350 from 23 countries, for nominating me as the Artistic Ambassador for People to People’s 50th Anniversary World Conference. Though a humbling experience, it was brief.

For this talk I’ll go more into the process of producing an image - from loading film, scouting locations, shooting, scanning, how much/little I use Photoshop, to how I hand make my personal line of frames. I don’t intend to spend too much time or go into too much detail on the process, but it’s a common question I get, especially in regard to my use of Photoshop. My real challenge of the talk is to explain my challenge of how to capture and convey the sublime nature of a landscape. Frankly not sure to what depth I’ll try to explain this, or, for that matter how good a grasp I really have on it! I’ll write more on it later but an impetus for the whole thought process for me stemmed from viewing “Megaliths”, a book by Paul Caponigro. I was having a similar discussion with another photographer and his wife when he handed me the book without any real introduction. The book has rather simple, B&W images mainly of boulders in fields, as I remember. What was so stunning was the “feeling” they conveyed! It was like each image had a presence of spirit, each unique to the image. Since then, for the last 20 years or so, that has been my passion or goal - to understand the principals at work there, to apply those principals, and to convey them to others. I can’t say that I’ve completely succeeded, but, I’ve been told enough from people viewing my work in person that they have an intangible presence, more than what is in the picture. Hopefully my thoughts will form into a coherent discussion of this transcendental subject by the time I talk. If so, surely a blog it will make!

Image: Bennet Valley #2, February 2011.
Bennett Valley #2

Lost Coast

Happy New Year!

Nice way to bring in the year by working with some images from a recent shoot! A couple weeks ago I spent some time on the Lost Coast, up above Fort Bragg. There was lots of rain the second day there. I do like to shoot in the rain but there was maybe a little much. I spent about 10 hrs driving muddy roads and taking pictures; Not sure what I liked better, the drive or the shooting. Anyway, everything was soaked!

Amazing land out there, all by yourself. There was hardly a soul on Hwy 1 once I got above Fort Bragg. Once I got onto to USAL road (stands for USA Lumber), and left the pavement, I saw one vehicle with people in it and two vehicles stuck and/or abandoned the 3 days I spent there.

I did run into some Elk while hiking along the cliffs. They’re big! I’ve run into plenty of deer and they never bothered me, but, these guys are big, and, they didn’t seem to think I was anything to worry about. When I first saw them they were blocking my only route. I thought about walking through them but decided I didn’t want to go that way anyway :-) However, after backtracking a bit, I went out onto a finger of the cliffs edge to get a shot looking up the coastline. While on the finger, the elk heard passed by and I didn’t think anything of it, till I continued backtracking to get back to the truck. I came over a hill, still on a narrow trail with a cliff on one side and thick brush on the other, and there they were again! There had to be 40 of them. As I passed through the heard I took a quick movie with my iPhone - love that thing!

The day I headed for home there was little rain. There was a some wind and haze but it really made for nice light. I ended up driving inland when I saw 10 Mile River, which lead me back into a valley that I fell in love with. I’ll definitely get back there soon. I have all the 4x5 film processed and scanned but have only finished a few - they’re the first few in the “Land” gallery.