Exhibit Over - Now What?

Ocean Sunset - Parksville

November 7, 2014

My exhibit titled ‘Coast’ at Java Jamboree in Cochrane was up for three months during the summer and early fall.  I like exhibiting at Java for several reasons.  First, having an exhibit up for an extended period means lots of people get to see it; next, the cost to exhibit is less than a fancy gallery would charge; and, finally, I often get to listen in, incognito, to people looking at and talking about my images while I’m having my daily coffee at Java.

I have an expanded version of Coast to be exhibited at the Cochrane Library in January.  I’m going to call it ‘Coast II’.  How innovative is that?  The unknown is that they are renovating the library this fall and winter.  I’m not sure when it will be finished and how much display space there will be in the new surroundings.  Time will tell, but I won’t start spending money on framing until I know better.

So, now what?  I’ve explored most of my favourite landscape subjects, namely the prairies, the mountains, and the coast.  I think that anything more in the ilk of general landscape will be repetitive.  Mind you, there is always something worth photographing in these environs because the seasons are always changing, as is the light.  However, I’m at a plateau with my art and wonder what my next work will be.

I like to talk with painters and other photographers to try to understand their ideas about landscape.  On a recent trip to the West coast, I visited one of the co-owners, a good photographer, at LensWork Magazine offices in Anacortes.  After looking at some of my photos she suggested that my images taken twelve to fifteen feet away from the subject had a particular appeal.  I have been finding that myself.  I think it is because I can make this sort of image more unique and visually interesting.  On the other hand, in a grand landscape everything has to be right to make the image artful — the composition, the light, the ground conditions, the sky, the season, and finally, something very important, my mood.  Making images of smaller selections in the environment removes some of the need to have the right weather and light.  Also, I think such images are more dependent on the photographer’s eye.  What I don’t yet understand is why I find them so intriguing.  I’m sure an experienced artist could explain that, but I can’t, yet.

I will take time to explore this idea of closer, tighter scenes a bit more.  I will go back over some of my older images, see what I can find, and seek out such images with my new work.

Speaking of looking at my older slides and prints for possibilities, I have recently been disappointed with some technical aspects of my earlier, film photography as I try to make larger prints from the negatives.  My disappointment has to do with the sharpness of the images.  Back those many years ago, I thought I had a pretty steady hand and took most of my photographs without a tripod.  The cameras I used were 35mm and fit so well in my hands that I thought I could photograph whatever I wanted at a 60th or 125th of a second.  I now know how wrong that was.

In those years I only used a tripod when taking photos of family or other group pictures where I wanted to be in the scene.  The tripods I bought for this purpose were the cheapest possible.  I didn’t do anything seriously with a tripod until I got my medium formal film camera.  That camera, a Mamiya 645, was so heavy and bulky that I didn’t have much choice.  I then found that I could get a large depth of field in my images, because I could use a very slow shutter speed and a small aperture.  Even with a slow shutter speed the images came out sharp because of the tripod.

The consequence of my previous approach is that those images cannot be blown up very large because they are blurred.  What a shame.

On another technical note, I am becoming overwhelmed with the advances in digital cameras and computers.  So far I can continue with what I use and have good results, but, in time, things like computer compatibility and camera capabilities will cause me to succumb to the latest and greatest devices.  I am going to have to be very careful and probably compromise, because if I bought the camera and the computer today that I would love to have, I would need the same amount of money that I would to buy a small car.  Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Again, I will explore those older slides and negatives I have from the years gone by.  I will scan most, so I can see what they are, and print few.  I hope I come across something that I can use in a future exhibit, but who knows.  I did print some images that I took in the 60’s in England and they were accepted by a museum/library in Salford, Manchester.  They have already used them in one of their newsletters.  They weren’t necessarily artistic gems, just images of a time gone by in places that don’t exist anymore.  Still, I felt good about being able to provide them to an appropriate organisation where they will be seen and not locked away in archives.