Bearsville Valley from Overlook Mountain,
above Woodstock, NY, High Summer afternoon c.1983 8"x10"
Ektachrome, Schneider Symmar-S 300mm
My first love in photography is
witnessing the singing presence of Creation. That is the
reason that I have
Bellini's St. Francis in
Ecstacy at the bottom of the home page.
I learned my large camera (big
cameras that takes 8" by 10" pieces of film and tip the scales at
some 70-100 pounds of gear) technique from Paul
, a master of the medium
who taught it as both technique (the Zone System, et al) and as a
meditation. You see the heart of the image, you
you set up the camera, frame the image and then...you step aside
only the shutter release, a thin cable, linking you to the
camera. You center, you focus, you quiet...and then when
thing is right, you trip the shutter.
At the time I took this image, my
family and I were living in a house on Overlook Mountain above
Woodstock (so high
up that we could see over Ohayo Mountain across the valley to the
beyond). This is what we saw through the seasons in the two
we lived there. High glowing summer, ice storms, breaking
thunderstorms: I saw them, would pull back the slider and
This image looks down on the Bearsville Flats and the back road
to Mt. Tremper. In 1985,
the property (we'd been renting) was sold with 27 acres for
For those of you who think that traditional photo-chemical imaging
processes are passe, I'd point out that that camera shoots the
equivalent of a 720 megapixel digital image...while the best
cameras shoot a resolution of 6 to 40 megapixels
. So it'll
be a while yet
before digital electronic imaging can deliver the kind of
and depth of tonality that traditional
photgraphic processes can. Oh, I'll be happy enough when it comes
pass, because the film and developing costs for one 8"x10"
$15....and the weight of the camera is just too much to deal with
For the whole Gallery of Hudson Valley landscapes, see
Reservoir from the Pumphouse Deck, September 2010, Canon 5D MkII
21MP Digital SLR, 24-105 Zoom at 105mm
There isn't the resolution or tonality of the large-format, but
pretty good for camera equipment I can hold in my hands...and
manipulation allows you to manage tonal ranges that would have
nearly impossible with "wet"/film based photography. The
the clouds was fiercely bright compared to the shadowed landscape
this image, but it could all be brought together in
I should say that full impact of this image was brought out by the
Photoshop expertise of Angel Cobos of Laumont Studio
in Manhattan; he
was the one who worked with the digital file to bring out both the
fierce light in the clouds and the subtle shadow detail.
also to the
staff and work of the people of Laumont Studio,
among them Tom Hurley in scanning, Jerry Lucid in retouching (he
cleaned up dust shadows in the sky of the top image beautifully)
Phillipe Laumont himself, all of whom contributed incredible
competence, patience, professionalism and grace. Laumont
has the expertise and big equipment to work digitally with large
film and make large high-end fine prints from it; their Cibachrome
FujFlex fine prints fully match the impact of the original
Alas, both Kodak and Cibachrome will soon be gone, victims of a
changing photographic world and the ever-increasing profit demands
the modern business world.
What follows is
one of those tiresome artists' manifestos. See also here
This image speaks to another aspect of spirituality that manifests
in photography: Creation
is always there, always happening; its revelations and
are all around us, if we but look. Somewhat before I took
image, I was busily speeding on my way and all in my head with
late and thethingsIhadtodo....I was whipping over the Reservoir
weir when the
small voice (that we should all listen to more) said, 'Hey lookit
that'. And thankfully I really did....and I stopped and
opened to seeing....and saw and took this image.
We all need to take more time to see and breathe.
I have mixed feelings about Photoshop: for me, the central gift of
photographic imagery is that it can bring back what was there
Not some sliced and diced weird artist's imaginative
but the revelation, the annunciation of life, its very
For me, photography is witness. The imagery is about opening
vision. Photography alone
of the art forms can do that. Alas, so much of
photography is about being as wiggy as the other art forms, about
producing images that are as plastic, non-realistic and of an
vision, that are "significant" and "challenging" and "troubled"
My classic work (in the vein of Strand, Steiglitz, Adams,
Caponigro) is, alas, quite out of vogue.
Hope you like it.