Sunday, January 8, 2017


I am currently scanning a number of negative taken years ago, maybe thirty or forty years ago to be exact.  Some of the images I have printed in both the darkroom and digitally.

I am starting to realize that my interpretation of what these images should look like is changing. In some cases the change is drastic.

This is a result of both the technology and my own interpretation of the negative.  The more I think about it, it may be just now that the negative is revealing its content in a way that I was unable to visualize earlier.  This is starting to sound deeply philosophical........

For year, dealers in fine photography have tried to convince the public that prints made closer to the time that a photographer made the negative are more valuable because they more closely represent the photograph in the photographer's mind at the time he or she took the photograph.  What a bunch of bull.  Every time I make a print I try to make it better than I have ever printed it before.

Most of the photographers I know shoot when they feel like shooting.  The exploration of the negative comes later.  Maybe some photographers stop exploring their negatives after they make what they think is the ultimate print.  I think there are still things to be discovered.  A negative doesn't always reveal all its content immediately.  (Lordy this is getting heavy!)

I think that photographers who stop exploring the content of the negative/file are cutting the images off from the photographer's growth as an artist.

Just a thought.

Don’t Know Why


This image was taken in Vienna, Austria through a bus window at night.  I am a little bewildered as to why this image appeals to me so much.  It just does.

There is a certain isolation.  Are they together?  Are they lost in their own worlds?  Does it matter?  It creates questions in my mind.  This image will stay fresh in my mind forever.

I find that for me, the best images leave something for me to question.  They don't answer all the questions.

Industrial Scenes

I think Charles Sheeler, the great artist, and I would have understood each other or at least gotten along. His art incorporated many industrial scenes.  He may have understood why. I’m not sure why I am drawn to industrial scenes and images that very few want to hang on their walls, but I am.

The above image is an example of what I am talking about.  No one is going to be drawn to this image but I am.  I don’t know why, I just am.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Narrative


Over the years I have become aware that to many people the narrative surrounding an image may be as important as the image itself.  The image is considered a mere touchstone to the life experience of the artist creating the image.

I have a different criterion since I consider an image from the perspective of how it will look on my walls.  The experience of the artist may be interesting but it is not critical to my enjoyment.  I don’t care that Ansel hopped up on top of his car, didn’t have a light meter but he knew how may foot-candles the moon had, and exposed Moonrise.  Good for him but I liked the image before I knew that about how he shot it.  It’s not irrelevant but it’s not important to my enjoyment of Moonrise.

I recently attended a program on the history of the National Gallery of Art.  What struck me the most was that the benefactors, who gave a lot of art to the nation, had previously used that art to decorate their houses.  They had not selected the art to create a gallery; they were decorating their living spaces.  In fact, the restorers had to clean the smoke residue off one Van Gogh because it had been hung over the mantle of a fireplace.

When I consider my life story, the narrative does not seem exceptional.  I have lived an extremely ordinary life.  The images are not the result of a mission or exceptional circumstances.  Most of the images have either come to me or I’ve put myself in a place of extraordinary beauty where they have been easy to find.  The recent flower images are possibly an exception, but they are beautiful, easy to do, don’t take a lot of time, and provide me something I can work on in the studio.  Hard to build a narrative that anyone would care about out of that.

All that said, I really enjoy photography and hope to continue doing it for a long time, even if mine doesn’t have a great narrative surrounding it.  One of the great things about being a photographer is that you can capture the beauty you see, to enjoy again and to share with others.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Too Easy

This morning I was thinking about what makes a photograph interesting to me.  My conclusion was that I liked photographs that can be reinterpreted every time I look at them.  They always seem to offer something new to be discovered.

The above image has, at least for me, those characteristics.  Every time I look at this image I create a different narrative of the circumstances surrounding it.

I also like the "beautiful image" that will be interpreted the same whenever I look at it.  However, they will never create that mystery of discovery that certain images convey.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Luck and Exploration

There is a famous quote by Chuck Close to the effect that photography is the only media in which you can create an accidental masterpiece.  Not that the above image is a masterpiece, but it happened because of a happy accident.

I was adjusting the level in Photoshop and accidentally moved the adjustment too far.  All of a sudden, the veins were enhanced and the luminosity was improved.  I had had no idea the image contained so much unrevealed detail.

This brings me to a related topic: exploration of the image.  While it is possible in traditional photography to explore an image, digital photography provides both the opportunity and the tools to more fully explore the possibilities of an image.  Most of us have some concept of what the final image will look like at the time we take the picture.   However, if we live with an image awhile and have the craft skills to know and execute what is possible, often a different, and even more interesting, image is revealed.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Past Prime

As I indicated in my previous entry, I have recently come to realize that flowers that are not freshly cut and in full bloom are entering a more visually interesting phase.

I had the studio set up to take some pictures of dolls for one of the fellow artists at the Torpedo Factory.   Walking out to the car I spotted a tiger lily that was. how shall I put this, entering a different phase of its existence.  It was quite interesting and I cut it off and took it into the studio to photograph.

To make a long story short, I have made about 300 photographs of flowers in various states of transition.  Nothing exceeds like excess!  No flower in the neighborhood is safe.  Folks are leaving flowers for me in my mailbox at the Factory and in sacks attached to the door of my studio.

I think the word is out that if you have dead flowers, give them to Jim.

A little note on the technical side.  These are taken with my Nikon D800e and the Nikor 105mm macro lens.  I used Helicon Focus software to focus stack the images to that I could get the depth-of-field required to execute the images the way I wanted.  You can see more here.