Category Archives: Panorama

New Corn and Fresh Pneumonia

Spring Cornfield and Echo Curve Cloud, Vermont 2016

The morning of June 4 was a beautiful one, fresh late spring growth, the corn in the field still showing nice clear geometry, and cirrus clouds echoing the curves and curls in the sky. My wife kicked me out of the house to go down the hill to photograph, with the idea there might be some low mist on these fields along the Connecticut River. There was not, but the clouds were great and I enjoyed making some I think well-seen and well-made exposures, with this, with clouds echoing the curve of the corn rows, maybe the best of them.

The rest of the day was busy, as a weekend day can be in early June in the country. A lot of gardening.

As the evening fell and the air cooled, I caught a chill and shivered. Fever all night, and the next night, and then diagnosed with pneumonia. Knocked me flat and got me behind schedule. But nevertheless I have made a lot of good exposures since then. I’m getting toward full tilt again.

This photo is for sale as a print in a few sizes on the site.

Uncut Hayfield, Norwich VT, July 2014

Uncut hayfield Norwich Vermont

I’ve been very busy printing some difficult prints, so of course, like a squeezed balloon, the pressure bulges out somewhere else. That seems to be the way I work; I get a lot of energy for something besides where the real pressure is. In this case, I took my scanner apart and cleaned the inner glass, which had been unusably crudded up with film from the outgassing plastic. I hadn’t really been able to scan any of my old sheet film in years. So yesterday I went down a rabbit hole, scanning all kinds of sheet film from the early 80s, when I was young and skinny and Serious About Photography. Yesterday, I re-fell in love with black and white film, again. The subtle silvery tones and haze of light graininess: Oh! I swam in the silvery tones as each scan completed (they take a long time, at high resolution with this big film). It was rather like darkroom developing, turning on the light after the film comes out of the fixer to look.

I used to print softer and more subtly than the Pop! that is more compelling and in easy reach with modern lenses and sensors. I remembered that in a good way.

Yesterday for a few hours I was 22, and the world was made of silver crystals and light. “I’m going to be a photographer.”

Damn, all these years later, I AM a photographer. Most of my life I’ve lived this vision, and it’s made me richer in spirit, if poorer in purse.

So anyway, I will be posting some of those (and other!) scans someday, but in the meantime, I would also have been pleased to get the image above, back in the film days. It’s kind of a bridge, a subtle silver smoothness from the old days, married to a modern snappiness of tone that I would have been pleased to pull off in those old days too.

Four Hay Bales Panorama, Canaan, NH, June, 2007

As it seems to go sometimes, I was looking for another photo to post when I came across this. I don’t know why it was never posted or published before.

This was in the time when I was driving a lot, and a lot of that was between Lyme NH and Canaan NH. Both had great opportunities for Hay Bale Landscapes. Later in the summer I got inspired to make hay bale landscapes as a primary subject in a trip to Iceland, but at this point it was just the way things were sometimes. Sometimes the clouds and landscape came together, and it was while there were hay bales.

This uses the very subtle color shift available in an infrared image to tone the basically black and white print.

Iceland Panorama – Volcanic Rocks and Distant Mountain Seascape

I’ve been wrestling with some newer images — hard to decide about those. But then sometimes some older ones snap into perspective: Oh yes. I put this panorama together from the iceland 2007 trip the other day, and it’s one of those, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?”

I also have a lot of “Why haven’t I done that yet?” images. Well, it’s clear why. Not quite enough time for everything…

Moving on after the exhibition spanning the holidays — lots of work to do on the site and the images.

This photo is available for sale and can be seen at a larger size here.

7 Sheep, Stone Wall Panorama, Hartland, 2014

7 sheep, stone wall, maples, vermont

Last week I mentioned that I had made several exposures on that stretch of road. Since I posted that, I went back there. With summer thunderheads moving in, sheep grazing, still maple leaves, I like the tension in this image of peace-with-intensity-and-change. It reminds me of meditating.

This image is available to view larger or purchase as a print here.

Desert Motel Shell, California

Desert Motel Shell Infrared

This is an older image I’ve always wanted to move from the archive into the public light, and the upcoming show — for now based around presenting the truth of impermanence — is a good excuse to bring it forward and print it.

It’s a funny thing: infrared images are so good in lush places full of foliage. But I found that I made a lot of exposures when we were traveling in the California desert a few years ago. Somehow the crispness of the hills and clarity of light works well with infrared, and the bits of foliage that exist serve to bring an even greater luminosity to the image.

I may have said this before, but I’ve always like infrared photography not because it transforms reality into something stranger than it is, but rather because it shows almost more accurately sometimes, or at least provides another reasonable take on how we actually perceive it. “Normal” black and white photography may seldom ever be “normal” in that a colored lens in front of the black and white film or an interpretation of the red/green/blue balance when rendering it as black and white in photoshop will provide very different interpretations of the image. In any case my point is that each is an interpretation of the way landscape is rendered as image; we’ve just gotten more used to some standard views, and we consider them to be normal. But in what world does drab gray evoke the experience that foliage — living plant material — evokes in us. To me it is luminious, glowing with the light, never dead and drab, or seldom anyway.

So anyway, this is going into the mock-up of the coming show and then heading for the printer to see how it goes.

I think what I really like about this is the kind of open-ness that reminds me of the way I have become opened-up in my life. Some of conventional shells I shut myself into have been blown away by circumstance, or painstakingly peeled away by my own efforts, or just worn out. There are still walls left, but they’re not quite shutting out the world like they did before. Well, it’s not just that I feel like a ruin — it’s the sense of inside and outside being one. No subject, no object. Some days, some moments anyway. Some days all the walls are up, and the cheap carpeting is musty. Try to open the windows every day, at least.

A New Thin Place: Single Maple Tree in Birch Grove, Vermont

birch grove panorama vermont

Sometimes these posts come because I have a photo (or several) pressing to be published, and sometimes it’s because I have something to write about. Sometimes it’s neither, and I do this out of discipline. I think it usually works out about the same.

I’ve been listening to The Moth podcasts while gardening lately. These are true stories told by the people who experienced them. The one that triggered this thinking and writing was by Krista Tippett, who broadcasts interviews with a broad range of what might be called “spiritual” people. The striking thing for me in the story she told was a mention of her time in Ireland, and an ancient Celtic idea of “Thin Places.” I had never heard of this as such, by that name and tradition. As she put it, a Thin Place is “a place where the gap between the temporal and transcendent is very thin.” Well. Yes.

I have experienced many such places throughout my lifetime, and arguably the discovery and exploration of such places is what got me to squander so much time with a camera, and then in the darkroom and then on the computer with photos. I could elaborate endlessly, and I think I should do it in a book, and in bits over various posts.

I have found as a photographer that sometimes these places are just dripping with good photographs. Other times, these places make it actually harder to photograph well. Sometimes a good photograph is made of essentially tricks — ways that compositions move the eye, textures, tones, and colors. All the normal ingredients of art applied to create a piece in the same way paint is applied to a canvas. The thing is, you still have to work as a photographer and exert the right skills, whether in a Thin Place or next to a Burger King.

I have also found that the application of effort, skill, and one’s own spiritual energy to a piece of art can create a “Thin Place” right there in the art, from scratch. I realized this over 30 years ago in MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, standing in front of van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Each dab of paint radiated some energy and was a portal to Vincent’s mind — he made that happen.

So in my experience, the relationship between a Thin Place and art is very tricky. 35 years of exploration have not unlocked all the secrets, or very many of them.

Back to this particular spot: A few miles from my house there’s a grove of birch trees right by the road. If I’m walking or riding a bike, I stop there, almost always, and I look and feel. The other week I was stopped on my bike, when a man on a walk I had passed caught up to me and stopped: A neighbor I hadn’t met. We hit it off, had a lot in common, and chatted for probably over an hour, more time than I should have taken as I had client work promises to keep. One thing that came from that conversation was the news that the owner of the land of that birch grove allows walkers.

I have been photographing a lot in recent weeks, which is another set of stories. I am in love with two new-ish cameras and some very nice lenses. I was in the emerging spring, just right in it, watching the buds swell and the leaves break out of them as if in time-lapse. I scrutinized and photographed and savored the bud-bursting leaf popping time, and I felt attached, not wanting it to pass. I wanted the leaves to stay so small and bright with light passing through them and dappling the ground and the other small bright lit-up leaves. But also enjoying the transformation, let it evolve, as everything will.

So a handful of walks in this newly found trail through birch groves and pastures was part of it. It is in some ways such an old time quintessential Vermont paradise of a sort that gets harder and harder to find as there are fewer farms and less mowing, and the fields grow up to brush. But this is very unusual as such an extensive stand of beautiful birch trees. The effect of this place on me is quite profound. But I’ve found it to be very hard to photograph there; I think I go over the gap into the other side of the Thin Spot, into the transcendent. I don’t keep my wits about me as well in terms of what works, what makes a photograph, how to (as a photographer) dab the brush into the paint and onto the canvas. Somehow I want to smear the canvas right on the scene and have it transfer. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? Not in painting or always in photography — you need the intermediary of the brush and paint — or some technology — to move the energy from around you and through you and to create some kind of thing that is related to it but separate.

This print is for sale and can be viewed larger here.

Twin Rock Outcrop, Iceland Panorama, with Bird, reverse side

Twin rock outcrop, iceland

Sometimes the photo-of-the-week choice is inspired by something I want to write about, which helps, given how many photos I have to choose from. Sometimes the photo pops up in my face, and I have to post it, and there isn’t much to say. This photo has been trying to get itself posted for some months now.

Today I decided to post “this” image, or in any case a panorama from this side of these rocks. The other side has been online for quite a while. I had already worked on the image, so I thought it might be easy to post. Oops.

This was late in the day. It was cold; we were cold, and I’d already been spending too much time at this spot. The light was failing and I was hurrying. Instead of digging out my tripod and working slowly, I pushed up the ISO a little bit and underexposed a bit in order to be able to make hand-held exposures. The original panorama I had made had some noise problems in some of the images. Luckily those weren’t the only ones I had made, and another series was able to work out too. Always slow and fiddly work to make these panoramas. It’s crazy, but they are so glorious when printed large.

Iceland seems to suddenly be a huge destination for photographers. In keeping my ear to the ground, I hear “Iceland” all the time. So for all you traveling-to-iceland photographers: enjoy and be careful. Take your time even if you’re freezing. Use a tripod more than you want to. You won’t be back for too long, this is your chance. It’s just like the rest of life, really.

This photo can be seen larger here, and it is for sale.

Single Lava Rock and Fjord, Western Iceland 2007

Single Lava Rock Fjord Panorama Iceland

I’ve been working on panoramas a bit, thinking of infrared as I prepare to send off a better camera to get another dedicated infrared conversion (still not sure whether to use Lifepixel or Kolari Vision). And, Iceland has been in the US press lately in regards to the Hidden Folk.

First, for the panorama: this has been a tricky one. Just a little bit off-vertical on a few shots, and it’s very hard to get the ocean horizon to line up. Thanks to a few new tools in my box, and mostly due to the development of patience and technique, and even more due to stubborn determination, I pushed this one through. I got the sense that it would be good, and worth it, so I spent hours and hours. I actually have a handful of variations of this rock/fjord in panorama, both with the infrared and conventional DSLRs, but I liked the way the triangles worked in this composition.

Also, I wanted to talk about the (now no longer linkable) AP article and its ilk that were bouncing around right before Christmas this year. I think this story ran because they used the word “elves” for the beings that many Icelandic people believe inhabit the landscape. Christmas. Elves. Get it? Our guidebook used the word “fairies,” which strikes me as better, more ethereal and less tangible somehow –which is what this is all about. I’ve seen many Americans in the comments section mocking the notion. Well, whether we do the usual human thing of projecting a human personification upon that which is too big to grasp, or however we try to reach out our mind into that which is bigger — it’s no matter. We do the best we can. But better to reach than to close down.

The idea is: “There’s more going on here than I can articulate or grasp. There is energy, beyond what I understand, beyond the merely human.” Call it elves, fairies, god, drala, magic, whatever. Me, I just try to make a good photograph with it as an ally.

This print is for sale here.