Category Archives: Infrared

In and Out of Time, Past and Present

Leaning Tree over Trout Brook

I’ve been working hard on the upcoming Post Pond show, at Matt Brown Fine Art in Lyme New Hampshire. I’m excited to share the space with Matt’s woodblock prints, other great contemporary artists, and also old woodblock prints. Matt is collecting and dealing Kunisada woodblock prints, among others — those are really something.

Matt asked me to make a show of my time in Lyme and to focus it around Post Pond and its immediate watershed. I spent a lot of camera time around Post Pond, the meadows near it, and the inlet and outlet streams: Trout Brook and Clay Brook.

Poet Jim Schley and I are going to give a talk, roughly around the notion of Time. I touched on that in my last post.

Passing through time is always interesting, and certainly no less as a photographer. All those older images represent both a period of artistic development as well as emotional experience. Also of course a record of the world passing through time, weather and light and atmosphere, as well as physical artifacts like trees that will change. One big dead tree that is prominent in many of my photos of Trout Brook no longer exists. The leaning tree above is a different story. Above, in about 2006, that tree had been leaning for a while. Below, in 2016, it was a bridge across the stream, completely fallen. I don’t know how it survived last winter or spring’s high water. No doubt it is different still. As the Buddhists say, annicca, annicca; impermanence. Everything is impermanent. Especially the state of my mind in the early 2000s when I lived near that spot.

And yet, here are some photographs. A reflection of my mind when I lived there, a record of the phenomena in front of my camera, a print that exists and resonates in this moment — and, really, nothing at all. Illusion. But illusion fun to play with. All life is a dance with illusion, so let us dance onward.
Tree Fallen over Trout Brook, Lyme, NH

Oh, and a news flash: I will be a featured artist at the rest area in Hartford on Route 5 in Vermont. Starting tomorrow, July 1, through the month. Those photos will not be Post Pond.

Prints Heading Out to Bernie Sanders’ Office

Prints ready for FedEx to Bernie Sanders' Office

I should be back tomorrow with a new image and some writing, but I’ll be heading out to FedEx soon to send off these prints to Washington DC to hang in Bernie Sanders’ office. I am a Vermont resident, and in fact have lived in Vermont more than anywhere else in my life, by far. (For the other part of my adult life, I’ve crossed the Connecticut River into New Hampshire for some stretches). So the news is that an intern from Bernie’s office contacted me requesting the loan of some images to hang in the DC office. I gave them various options, and in the end they picked these four, which of course are all Vermont images. They’ll be there for a year, and I’m pleased about it.

One thing that is interesting is that out of all of the range of papers I print on, these are all images I print on Epson Hot Press Natural paper, a creamy and velvety matte paper with a warm tone. I like this paper for infrared photos, because it tends to look more natural, and I sometimes like it for snow scenes because it gives a smoother rendering of images with a lot of high key or white in them. Two of the images are infrared, and the other two “normal” capture, one on black and white sheet film.

The images are:

Three Trees, South Strafford
This is an early exposure of mine, exposed to 4 x 5 film. I was a skinny young adult just out of college, schlepping a big view camera around. In my darkroom days I used to print it on a warm tone portrait paper, Agfa Portriga I think it was called, and then tone it hard with selenium. So I print it the same way now.
Three Trees, South Strafford Vermont

Haying in Progress, Barn, South Woodstock, Vermont
This was a day when I had a lot of time in this location, in South Woodstock, Vermont. A pleasant summer day, and I had time to pass. They did a lot of work on that hay field while I was there, and the clouds of course changed quickly and constantly. I made a lot of exposures with a normal camera and also the infrared camera. This one, from the infrared, is the one I’ve picked of them all as the best.
Haying and Barn, South Woodstock Vermont

Field of Dandelions and Barn
This is a conventional capture, printed as black and white. I’m very lucky to have this particular hayfield a short walk from my house. Most years, the dandelions go crazy. It’s a rare year though when there is a good bloom and seed-set like this, and also an opportunity to photograph the full display before the wind, a thunderstorm, or the hay-cutters take them down. I haven’t managed to photograph quite such a display in more recent years, when some changes in camera and lens choices would make it interesting to experiment. As it is, I’m not sure I could beat this one if given another chance:
Dandelions and Barn, Vermont

Spring Cornfield, Hay Field, Clouds, Hartland Vermont
This is also near my house, but in another direction. Within a half mile of this, I’ve probably made well over a thousand exposures in all seasons. It’s quite a spot. This is my only really famous image though, and doubly famous now. The first brush of fame is that the Boston Athenaeum bought this print, and then chose to display it (I had three prints hanging in the show, out of the dozen or whatever that they bought) — displayed it in a show of “recent acquisitions” last summer. It was a really great show, and I was honored to be hanging in it. It’s an infrared exposure, but it looks quite natural, I think.

Spring Cornfield, Hayfield, Hartland Vermont

Early Summer Cornfield, Vermont, 2017

Cornfield and cirrus clouds, Vermont

I started out with the intent to post an image from an exposure in Norway, since I was there at this time last summer, but I didn’t get that far back in my catalog. Instead here is something from Vermont this summer, since I am here now.

In this time when it seems that so much about our country is ugly, with a president who is crazy, stupid, and mean, white nationalism rising from it’s slime-swamp, and so on, I take some comfort in living in a place that is beautiful and grounded, ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. There is a wonder and a presence to the landscape, small and grand, of Vermont that I never take for granted.

I’m sorry this other part of Vermont doesn’t show up in my photos much: I also have to say I’m grateful to live in a place where people are generally kind, sane and goodhearted.

I love Vermont.

I’m also glad to say that really the country as a whole, despite so much ugliness and insanity currently manifesting, also is full of good people and beauty. With very few exceptions the people I meet are good.

This image is for sale as a print.

Carefree Travel as Dark Clouds Gather

Lofoten Islands Norway, Infrared

Hawk and Fences, Durango Colorado

Last summer I had the great opportunity to do some carefree travel; a trip to Colorado and then to Norway. I did a lot of work with cameras in both places, as well as having a good time with family and generally being away from everyday cares. The top photo here is from the Lofoten Islands in Norway, and the bottom one with the flying raptor is from Durango Colorado.

It’s funny how different it is to see dark clouds on the horizon than to be on the edge of a storm, and then different yet again to be in the pouring rain, wind, and lightning. On the horizon they are mostly just interesting.

Last summer, while doing these travels, there was a slight possibility — though bigger than ever before in my life — that America could become an authoritarian fascist regime. It seemed like an almost laughable possibility. Our democracy is robust, right? Russia couldn’t really hack our election, we would imagine. Even if we got someone with fascist tendencies in the White House, there would be grown ups to keep him in check, right?

Right now experts on authoritarianism are very concerned about the new president’s first 10 days in office. Large and spontaneous protests are happening all around the world. Meanwhile in DC, the mechanisms that separate established law, civil government, and political loyalists are coming apart.

The edge of the storm is hitting us, and I think we will get quite wet. This may be worse than merely interesting. If some of our minority party don’t pull it together and stand up against the breakdown of our laws and mechanisms of government, we lose the 238 year experiment. There’s some chance somehow the laws hold up. #resist

Prints of the images above are available printed on Epson Hot Press Natural paper:

Durango, Raptor, Fences

Lofoten Islands, Mountain and Clouds

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.

Light Through Leaves (x3)

Apple Orchard and Maple

I was walking past this little orchard one day, my wife walking fast and getting ahead of me on account of my photography. “Wait! Just one more!” This panorama. Worth exposing…

Oak Tree and Vermont Hills

Another recent one, above. I went out that morning because there was a heavy frost/light snow with fall leaves still up. I was looking for a certain kind of image, with the potential everywhere I looked — but I don’t think I managed to realize it in a good composition. This was near a little stream, not particularly the drama I was looking for in the open spaces. The field in the background is indeed covered with frost, and these leaves were indeed red with light shining through. Somehow this black and white version is the best photo though. Also the images I exposed just after this were also good, along the stream. You just never know. You look for one thing, but you find another.

Stone Wall, Light through trees, Maine

And this one above, also of light coming through trees, I’ve been meaning to put up on the site for a few months now, since exposing it last spring. I was driving past this wall and just glimpsed the wall and the light coming through the trees, late light, and I turned around and circled back to it.

Curves on Fjord Edge, Iceland

I’ve been putting together a lot of panoramas from files lately and finding a lot of gems I hardly knew I had.

I had tried putting this one together in the past, but somehow I didn’t have the chops to pull it off, or I couldn’t get my mind to visualize it properly. I thought it didn’t work. This time I think it really works!

This image is for sale and can be viewed in higher resolution here.

Trout Brook Into Post Pond, Summer 2006, Infrared

This summer foliage and water image strikes my fancy now, since it looks so cool and etherial. We’ve had a run of hot and muggy weather in Vermont in recent days that has been more of a feet-of-clay feeling. Moving the mind to a cooler place is an exercise that sometimes fights the body’s pull back to the too-solid experience of heavy hot air.

The exposure was so long ago that I can’t remember the specifics of that August evening. (I only know it is evening from the metadata in the file). Maybe it was hot then. And I guess in a way it is some measure of success of this image. While sometimes a photograph is successful because it is so clearly linked to a particular atmosphere and time in the so called real world, I also like it when the photo creates its own world, out of our normal experience of time. The time in the photo is not so clearly linked to any specifics except the foliage and atmosphere. That’s August, yes. August in the year forever.

This seems to be a good spot for making timeless photos, I see in retrospect, now that I don’t live so close to it anymore. Other successful images from more or less the same location:

Winter

Late Fall

The photo can be viewed on the site here.

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.