Exhibits at Scott Nichols Gallery – 2016

A little over a year ago, I was very fortunate to begin a working relationship with Scott Nichols. Scott and his gallery in San Francisco are well known for their expertise in classic West Coast photography. I think my appreciation of that work, and the fact that I continue to work in a similar vein, is what prompted him to take a chance on me.

Over the last year, I have been honored to have my photographs on display alongside those of many of my photographic heroes. Scott was kind enough to include my photographs in the work displayed at Classic Photographs Los Angeles, Photo LA, the AIPAD Photography Show in New York City, and two exhibits in the gallery.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to post a couple of photos from those exhibits, express my thanks to Scott for representing me, and thank my lucky stars for being able to connect with such a well-respected gallery.

 

The Big Picture Show

The Big Picture Show at Scott Nichols Gallery, San Francisco (June–July 2016). My photo, Oceano #28, is at the lower right.

 

 

The Summer Show

The Summer Show at Scott Nichols Gallery, San Francisco (July–September, 2016). My photos, Oceano #6, #39, and #37, are on the right.

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Black + White Magazine (UK) – American Connection

 

 

I’m very honored to have been profiled in Susan Burnstine’s column, American Connection, in the April 2016 issue of Black + White Photography Magazine (UK).  Black + White Photography is a high-quality international magazine published in the UK, focused, as it name implies, exclusively on black and white photography. It is available in the United States at Barnes and Noble, international magazine stands, and online.

I met Susan Burnstine last Fall at the Medium Festival of Photography in San Diego. Susan’s own black and white photography is hauntingly beautiful, and created with hand-crafted film cameras and lenses made out of “plastic, vintage camera parts, and random household objects, with single-element lenses molded from plastic and rubber.” While quite different from my own work, I find it beautiful and intriguing, and presumably she saw something in my work interesting enough to write about as well.

The article can be seen here: Black + White Magazine – American Connection

(Courtesy of Black + White Photography Magazine (UK), April Issue, #188)

 

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Scott Nichols Gallery

I’m honored (and extremely happy) to announce that I am now represented by the Scott Nichols Gallery. Located in San Francisco’s art gallery hub at 49 Geary Street near Union Square, the Scott Nichols Gallery is one of the best fine art photography galleries anywhere.

Scott Nichols is considered an expert on Group f/64 and Brett Weston, and the gallery has an extensive inventory of photographs by classic California photographers such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Brett Weston, Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, Ruth Bernhard, Wynn Bullock, and William Garnett.

The gallery shows a  combination of  established, up and coming, and contemporary photographers. Scott Nichols is very friendly, casual, and an all-around nice guy. As Scott says, “This is not the typical white walled gallery affair.” I’m humbled to begin a working relationship with him.

 

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Center for Photographic Art Members’ 2015 Juried Exhibition

I’m happy to announce that one of my images, Oceano #27, has been selected for the Center for Photogaphic Art Members’ 2015 Juried Exhibition.  The juror was Richard Gadd, Director of the Weston Gallery in Carmel.

 

 

 

The exhibition opens July 25, 2015 and runs through September 19, 2015.  The Center for Photographic Art is located in the Sunset Center, San Carlos Street at 9th Avenue, in Carmel California.  There is an opening reception July 25 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

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Still Seeing Straight

I recently read Group f.64: Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and the Community of Artists Who Revolutionized American Photography by Mary Street Alinder. It’s an excellent book, detailing the development, personalities, and some of the lesser-known aspects of the well-known photography “movement” known as Group f.64.

More a loose association of like-minded friends than a formal organization, Group f.64 came together in the Bay Area in 1932. It was named (primarily symbolically) for a very small lens aperture that provides great depth of field in a photograph (the areas in sharp focus). The members of Group f.64 shared a conviction that photography should capitalize on and celebrate the medium’s inherent strengths of sharp focus and detail, as manifested through finely crafted prints. This was in opposition to pictorialism, in vogue at the time, which emphasized soft-focus and unabashedly manipulated images, usually presented on heavily textured papers. Pictorialism attempted to use photography to mimic or reference other art forms, while the straight photography of Group f.64 celebrated the medium’s own unique strengths.

While the members shared these basic tenets, they were far from a homogenous group. Differing opinions about photography’s social relevance and responsibility developed as time (and the Depression) wore on. Some (such as Willard Van Dyke and Dorothea Lange) felt photographers had a duty to expose society’s ills to the world, while others (such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston) believed their primary duty was to creativity and self-expression.

Although the group itself was fluid and fairly short-lived – its last exhibition was in 1939 – its influence lives on. Referred to as straight photography, pure photography, or West Coast photography, the style still has many admirers, advocates, and practitioners. It also continues to have its detractors and those who question its relevance.

I’m a great admirer of this aesthetic, and it has undoubtedly influenced the way I photograph. Although I now embrace modern digital technology in image capture and printing, my ultimate goal remains the same: to capture and print expressive images based on reality and the innate characteristics of photography.

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Center for Photographic Art 2015 Juried Exhibition

I’m happy to announce that one of my images, Oceano #11, has been selected for the Center for Photographic Art’s 2015 Juried Exhibition.  For the first time in the history of this annual juried show, submissions were judged on the basis of portfolios that were to “exemplify sustained intent through a series of eight images.”  An additional image, Oceano #5, was selected for the supplemental online exhibition.

The juror was Douglas Marshal, Director of the Peter Fetterman Gallery, Santa Monica, California.

 

Oceano #11, Oceano, California

 

The exhibition opens January 10, 2015 and runs through February 28, 2015 at the CPA Gallery in the historic Sunset Center in Carmel, California.

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BLACK AND WHITE at PhotoPlace

I’m happy to announce that one of my images, Oceano #13, has been selected for the juried BLACK AND WHITE exhibition at PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont.  Selections were made by Karen E. Haas, Lane Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

 

 

The exhibition opens March 28, 2014 and runs through April 25, 2013.  PhotoPlace Gallery is located at 3 Park Street in Middlebury, Vermont.  There is an artist’s reception April 4 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

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INFOCUS at the Phoenix Art Museum

Oceano #6, Oceano, California

I’m happy to announce that one of my prints (Oceano #6, above) is included in PhotoBid 2013, an exhibition and silent auction at the Phoenix Art Museum. PhotoBid 2013 is organized by INFOCUS, the museum’s photography support organization, and curated by Rebecca Senf, the Norton Family Curator of Photography at the Center for Creative Photography and the Phoenix Art Museum.

The exhibition will be on display in the Phoenix Art Museum’s Norton Photography Gallery from Saturday October 5 through Friday October 18.  The Silent Auction will take place at the museum on the final evening (October 18), as well as online.

The online preview can be seen at www.infocus-phxart.org/auction.

The mission of INFOCUS is to promote interest in and understanding of photography through education, photographic scholarship, connoisseurship, and personal collecting. To accomplish this, INFOCUS sponsors exhibitions, programs, and publications.  PhotoBid is their major fundraiser, and allows the group to continue supporting photography at the Phoenix Art Museum.

 

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Using Photoshop with Restraint

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” That’s an old saying, but it’s extremely relevant to manipulating digital images with Photoshop in today’s “digital darkrooms”.

Photoshop has become such a powerful and complex program that I doubt that anyone truly knows all its tricks. I would estimate, on the high end, that I might use 5% of its total capabilities.

Photoshop’s power can truly be a siren song, and it undoubtedly has played a major role in ruining many a good image (and many more bad ones). It’s human nature to want more saturation, more contrast, more clarity, more sharpness, and on and on.  It’s also now possible to make all these adjustments in truly complex and convoluted ways, all the way down to making changes on a pixel by pixel basis.

In my experience (in Photoshop and elsewhere in life), the more complicated things become, the more chances there are to screw them up. If I’m having trouble printing an image, the first thing I do is turn off all the adjustments I’ve done and go back to square one. Often, by simplifying things considerably, I end up where I really wanted to be in the first place.

I spent many years printing in a traditional darkroom, and follow the same basic approach when I print digitally. While the tools are different, the primary goal in black and white printing remains the same: taking the tonalities that existed in the original scene and translating them into the desired values by the use of filtering, global and local contrast control, and dodging and burning (lightening and darkening certain areas of a print). A quote from Ansel Adams, as relayed by John Sexton, applies nicely: “dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made when establishing tonal relationships.”

As in a traditional darkroom, it seems best to build up to a final print gradually. A final print shouldn’t be produced in one step. Print it, evaluate it, think about it – the process takes time.  Come back to it additional times and start over if necessary. It’s an evolutionary process. As in the darkroom, once you go too far, it is often hard to go backwards to what might be a more subtle, more delicate, and more appropriate print.

My aim is to present a final image that shows no sign that it has been manipulated in any way. Although each image has been carefully processed and printed, and may have many layers of adjustments, my goal is to make those adjustments invisible.  I try very hard not to let Photoshop get in my way.

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Hasselblad “V” System – End of an Era

Last month, Hasselblad announced that it was ceasing production of its 503CW camera, the last in its historic line of “V” System cameras.  This camera was the latest, and final, iteration of Hasselblad’s storied line of medium-format film cameras.

For many years, Hasselblad was considered the pinnacle of medium format cameras – those that used film roughly 2.5 times greater in area than standard 35mm film.  This was before the days of rapid digital obsolescence, when camera models tended to last for years, and evolved slowly.  While these cameras evolved over time, they kept many of the same basic design features for more than 50 years.

Hasselblads were famous as “the camera that travelled to space”.  This started rather unofficially in 1962, when Astronaut Wally Schirra went into a camera shop in Houston and purchased a Hasselblad off the shelf prior to his flight aboard the Mercury Mission’s “Sigma 7”.  After the success of this flight and its photos, the relationship between NASA and Hasselblad was formalized, and specially adapted Hasselblad cameras were used for future missions.  Hasselblads documented the first space walk, the first manned orbit of the Moon, and the first lunar landing.  A Hasselblad was lost during a space walk, making it the only camera in orbit, and thirteen cameras were left behind on the surface of the moon to reduce weight during the return trips.

A Hasselblad was my first “serious” camera.  I was aware of Hasselblad’s mystique, and had read that Ansel Adams used one in his later years.  That was good enough for me, so I made the commitment, a big one for me, and purchased a Hasselblad 500C/M in 1987 for the outrageous price of $1,800.  I remember driving back from the camera store, thinking that my new camera was worth more than my old car.  I used that camera for many years, until I eventually moved up to a larger format camera.

The camera was entirely manual.  There was no winding mechanism, no light meter, and no batteries.  The standard viewfinder showed the image right side up, but reversed left to right, which provided just enough departure from reality to feel like you were looking “at” an image rather than “through” a camera.  Anyone who ever used one will remember the distinctive “thump” when the shutter was released.

I always felt attached to that camera, and kept it, even after moving on.  Hasselblad and other manufacturers eventually started making digital backs for the legacy “V” system cameras.  Although the prices were initially astronomical, as with all things electronic, they eventually started to drop.  Two years ago, I purchased a used Phase One P45+ digital back for my old Hasselblad, which has again become my primary camera.  I find this gives me a great combination of tactile ergonomics, high-resolution digital capture (39.1 Megapixels), and a smooth, film-like tonality.

Although Hasselblad has now officially moved on to their digital “H” Series cameras, the venerable “V Series” cameras continue to live on.

 

Digital photography with a 26 year-old camera – Hasselblad 500C/M and Phase One P45+ Digital Back

 

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