Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Ireland's Slea Head, the westernmost point of continental Europe, slices into the North Atlantic Ocean, pointing West, where so many of it's people sailed in search of prosperity. Some were my own ancestors. Much of my genetic code comes from this land actually. It's true I'm a day dreamer, but I'm pretty sure some part of me recognized that land and air and the smell of the ocean there. And what a beautiful land it is. How hard it must have been to leave it!
This is an abandoned tenant house on Slea Head, Ireland, the Western most point on continental Europe. What and incredible piece of the planet this place is! I shot this heading back to the village of Dingle after driving the Irish countryside and coastland all day, then taking a sunset hike out onto the actual Slea Point, where the continent slices into the sea in one of the most dramatic and yet soothing landscapes I've ever seen.
Relaxing in the Mediterranean sunshine near Fiumicino, Italy. The main things I remember from this day are beautiful sunshine after two days of rain, incredible coffee and food in this lovely Italian village after being stuck in big dirty Rome, and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Sitting right behind the driver on this bus, I somehow managed to get away with hanging out the window to shoot traffic and this split view for quite some time before he pumped on the brakes and yelled something at me in Italian. I shot a few pictures, but I wanted to get one with the iconic Italian Vespa. There really are a lot of those things running around that city. And it makes sense because they are the perfect way to get around in a city like that, with nowhere to park and insanely narrow streets.
This was from my second trip to Europe. The first time was Spain only. This time was London, Rome, Ireland, Paris, Scotland and the English Countryside in a month. What a time it was. And having my nine year old daughter with me to experience it was so priceless!
But to be honest, I didn't particularly care for Rome. And I kind of knew I wouldn't. Not to offend anyone. Nor am I referring to the people per se. But just in general. The Coliseum made me ill. I mean seriously? All of the human genius that went in to building that incredible structure turned to waste when they used it to murder and torture on a mass scale for public entertainment. What a waste... and I'm sorry to say it, but that's kind of what Rome represents to me as a historical icon. I certainly can appreciate the beauty of the city, don't get me wrong. And the incredible lasting history. And the art. Yet I couldn't help but let that city and it's gruesome past bring out the cynicism in me, and perhaps my underlying disappointment with "Western Civilization", or just humanity's failings in general. Western Society only took our ability to fail to a new level, in that we have so perfectly convinced ourselves that it is impossible for us to do so. Yet our failings can affect our future and the entire world in such a way as never before. So I just kind of saw Rome as another big dirty city. The mother of big dirty cities.
And that's why I shot this, and chose it to put up. For me the swirling mass of traffic rushing past this beautiful building kind of expresses the sense of chaos I had there. In fact I was almost run over trying to take this picture. I walked out over about 9 lanes of traffic to get the shot I wanted, and didn't quite make the last light. When it turned the whole mob of cars just gunned it! I actually felt the brush of a car against my coat as I leapt up onto the sidewalk! That's when I turned and grabbed this shot. They weren't stopping for me though, I'll tell you what! Kind of like our culture and society do with our rush to be or do whatever it is we're trying to be or do. What is that exactly anyway? What do we represent as a culture and a society? I mean we sure are using up an incredible amount of resources, and sometimes even our fellow humanity, to get there. Where is that we're going in such a pressing and powerful rush?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Burned Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree National Monument. A forest/brush fire had recently burned through a large portion of the park. Also another example of my obsession with shooting at the sun. (This image should have been uploaded earlier chronologically.)
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
It was Halloween night in Barcelona, almost 2AM, and my second to last night in Spain. Tired from wandering up and down La Ramblas, and many other Barcelona streets that night, I found a quiet square to rest on a bench for awhile. Carrying a small backpack with my camera equipment in it and a money belt under my pants, I was keenly aware of the many warnings about pick pockets and muggings in Barcelona I had received. Just then a group of rag tag Gypsies and street urchin types wandered into the square talking and laughing loudly. They headed straight across the square towards the bench I was seated on. We were the only ones present in that dimly lit back street of the old city. Tensing up slightly and instinctively gathering my things to me, I noticed that one scraggly fellow with a guitar on his back had singled me out and headed straight for me. I waited for his pitch as he approached, already convinced he was about to hit me up for money. He rattled something off in Spanish I didn't understand. Proceeding with my now familiar response I muttered "no habla..." "Ah! American!" he said. "Uh oh" I thought, remembering the war my country had started that year. He repeated in English, "Can I play you a song?" "Ah, there it is" I thought to myself. I'd dealt with these types on the streets of San Francisco, LA, Seattle, or Washington D.C. The same anywhere I thought to myself. I replied, "Well sure you can, but I can't pay you anything for it." Almost indignant, but chuckling as well, he responded "No no no! I don't want any money! I just want to sing for you a song that I love!" Somewhat cautious I replied "Oh, ok. Ya go ahead." He sat down and proceeded to play and sing the most beautiful Spanish folk song. I didn't know the words, but it made no difference. It was the kind of music that speaks for itself. Speaks to your soul, and comes from the soul. By the time he finished I had let my guard down, although still aware of the group of young rag tags who had pretty much surrounded that area by now, albeit not paying much attention to us. Some skateboarding, others playing hackey sack or talking amongst themsleves. I knew these young people. They were the same as many youths in my own country, except descended from generations of wandering folk like themselves, living off their wits and resourcefulness. And of course talents.
This talented new friend and I proceeded to have the best conversation I had with anyone I met during my time in Spain. We talked of his country, my country, politics, war, religion... pretty much covered the bases of intellectual discussion. He told me of his youth in Portugal, and his travels roaming Spain, France and Portugal. I asked if he had ever traveled or studied in the U.S., because his English and even American sounding accent was more understandable than anyone I had met in Spain, including some highly educated folk. He informed me that he had only gone as far as the third grade in school, and had taught himself English by watching subtitled American movies, thus explaining his almost American accent. But he dreamt of seeing the U.S. someday. He also warned me to be careful with my camera and valuables, as even some of the people he was with would rob me given the chance. It wasn't long after that I noticed a young fellow drifting closer to us, almost listening in to our conversation. Watching him I caught him staring at the camera around my neck. I waited until he looked up and noticed me watching him, and he looked away almost shamefully. When he looked back I caught his eye again and asked him if he liked my camera? He shook his head and looked down, mumbling something in Spanish. I told him that my camera was like my wife, and wherever I went, she went, and visa versa. My fate tied to hers. He seemed to get the gist, and turned to wander off. My new friend also informed me to be careful if I took any pictures of these people, as some of them would be very upset, and may even attack me. Taking that to heart, I left my camera down. Then suddenly a loud political rally came marching through the square (at two in the morning no less) chanting, waving signs, and wearing funny masks. Confused I asked my friend what was going on, and he explained to me how politically active people are in Spain. Especially in Catalan country. And that political rallies will happen at all hours, particularly during election season, which it was. Taking advantage of the distraction, I quickly fired off three hand held silhouette exposures of the Gypsies and the rally, and then bade farewell to my new friend. I wandered off into the night feeling blessed with this brief connection I had made with a kindred spirit. Although we lived worlds apart, we seemed to recognize ourselves in each other during that unexpected late night meeting in the back streets of Barcelona. What a nice experience to top off a fantastic and soul awakening journey!
While waiting for a train in Barcelona I noticed these elderly folks watching a game of Bacci Ball being played beneath an overpass. I liked the sign and the sun and the juxtaposition of people lost in their own worlds, me looking in from the outside, just a visitor... I have a couple shots of people's backs to me in these Spain shots, and it's how I felt there for the first time in a new land and continent. And not speaking the language. I really was a tourist. My time brief. So in that sense these are like personal postcards, memory pictures I created for myself. Impressions of my time there appreciating the beauty of the place, but not really understanding it. They are from the outside looking in. That was my experience there. But I also loved that about it! You travelers know what I mean. If I had the time I would love to learn to capture the place from the inside out, but this is my perspective on 'my' journey there. That's all.
I would like to say this as well. I had kind of withered creatively for a couple years before this journey. But this experience was a catharsis for me in a sense, and I feel it re-awakened my photographic spirit. I think I've been on a fairly steady incline since, not always rapid, but steady. I began to see a little different, and also adapted my pinhole style to work with long hand held exposures as well. That's when I started playing with exposure techniques to try and create that pictorialist or painterly feel. And it works to help create an 'impression' as opposed to a detailed document perhaps. Because that was my experience there. It's what I remember. Impressions more than details.
This is just a strange scene I came upon walking around Barcelona on one of my last nights in Spain. To this day I'm not quite sure what the heck was going on here, but I like it. It just reminds me of the bustle of that old and busy city on any given night. And they stay up late there, let me tell you! My kind of people! I believe a commercial was being filmed or something, but as I said, I can't really say. Just another strange scene to a stranger in a strange land.
I got completely lost and disoriented wandering around Barcelona one night for about two hours before I made my way back to somewhere familiar. This is something I noticed while trying to figure out where I was. I'll be honest, I was in Spain, and that was the night I tried Absinthe at the bar. I mean first time in Europe, young artist, come on... I only had two glasses, but it may have played into my walking out of that bar and being lost within about 15 minutes. Hmm?
I found this juxtaposition interesting as I wandered down the beach one evening in Barcelona. I particularly like the old man in Speedos running down the beach and a bird walking along beside him (in print that comes through, not sure on this tiny web file though). I'm not sure who the installation sculpture is by. One thing I loved about Spain was the public art everywhere!
This is an installation sculpture by artist Eduardo Chillida in San Sebastian, Spain. Found it wandering around that city on foot, as I find so many of my favorite things, wandering on foot. If you enlarge it you will see there is another one on the point behind it. There is also one on a rock in the water out of frame.
Heading back to my hotel after wandering the streets of San Sebastian, Spain, on foot all day. What a nice day that was. My first full day wandering about in a place of my choosing on the European Continent. The job that took me to Madrid, and Europe for the first time (Sep. 2003), was done. So I then spent two weeks wandering on my own. San Sebastian was a place that sounded interesting to me, so I hopped on a bus and headed there. This shot was I think the beginning of me playing with long hand held exposures at night to try and achieve a painterly, or sketch-like feel. I enjoy it. It feels kind of like sketching to me, because you don't quite know exactly what you're going to get, but you have an impression. And that's more what I want to capture in these night shots, is an impression. A stranger in a strange land, navigating not just by sight and sound, but impression. Non-verbal communication. A sense for others and place. The details aren't quite clear in a situation like that, where you don't speak the language, a world apart, and no idea where you really are.
Another self-portrait, this one on, and looking at two of my favorite places in the world. It's on the summit of Mt. Sacajawea (pictured earlier and later), and looking at the summit of Matterhorn, the two highest peaks in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Eagle Cap Mountain is the crest way in the background. I would be here forever if I could... in my heart I am.
My friends Colin and Peter (and me of course) climbing in The Eagle Caps. This is for a story I did about rock climbing in the Eagle Cap Wilderness for the Wallowa Valley Visitor's Guide. It's the first story I both wrote and photographed.
Checking the gear for the second pitch. This was from a story I did about rock climbing in the Eagle Cap Wilderness for the Wallowa County Visitors Guide. It's at the Dihedrals climbing area up the West Fork of the Wallowa River.
Monday, April 20, 2009
This is a boring catalog shot of a watch, just to show that I can light catalog product work if anyone's looking! ;) (Believe it or not uninspiring shots like these can be some of the most difficult to light! Metal and glass with details on a small product. Any catalog shooter will tell you what a pain lighting this kind of stuff can be.)
Shot of a Morning Glory on my porch in Santa Barbara. This image was included in the 2000 Nature's Best and Cemex International Photography Awards, and was part of a six month exhibition of nature photography in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Navajo grandmother Glenna Begay watches her sheep head out to pasture for the day on Black Mesa. Since the 1970's over 14,000 Navajos have been forcibly relocated from lands their families have occupied for many generations due to what the Federal Government calls "an inter-tribal land dispute". Interestingly enough, much of the vacated land ended up underneath the Peobody strip mine. Glenna Begay lives on her land illegally, and is resisting Federal relocation.
Navajo medicine man Carlos Begay stands above what used to be Owl Springs, the traditional watering place of his family for generations upon generations. Since Peabody Coal began tapping 9 billion gallons of water a year from the only desert aquifer in this region to run their slurry line, these and many other springs have disappeared. Most Navajo families in the region now drive miles across the desert in flatbed trucks to Peobody Mine headquarters and fill 200 gallon tanks to take home for themselves and their livestock.