Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hogan Sitting.

It's buggy in here- some little beetle is dying in record numbers.  Whatever it is they need they aren't getting it.  They just seem to crawl into the open and die.  This is a lean nice comfortable guest house, no dark corners but I did have a juvenile Brown Recluse crawl out of the hinge of the laptop yesterday. That's kind of a shock.  Never had ANYTHING crawl out of the macbook before.  Nothing to be done except sweep up the bodies and shake your clothes before dressing.

  This Artist-in-residence thing can be tricky, I guess.

  I haven't left the property since I got here.  Going to today.  The forecast calls for no wind so I am about to get geared up to go to Canyon de Chelly for the afternoon.

  Yesterday evening I broke out the 5X7 and shot windows and doors.  Shot through all my holders.  I had shot the moonset and a couple other things, plus plenty of digital and iphone, but that was the first real sustained work.

The guest hogan.  It's not as isolated as it seems.  That's Hubbell Hill where everyone is buried behind it.

Kid field day yesterday here on the grounds.  Like any field day, the kids had a great time.

Moonset yesterday morning.

Brown Recluse.  Dang.

Staff is fine, mostly Dine.  I got here just at the start of a two-day meeting and training session hosted by the Western National Parks Association.  Back to routine today for them.  Wonderful flow of people coming through the trading post.  Met some from Texas and some from Norway.  Famous place.

I think I qualified yesterday.

Ravens here very aclimated to humans.  They scavenge food scraps in the parking lot.  A pair were going at a garbage sack in the back of a pickup out in front of the post.  I don't think they are nesting yet, but it's close.

Roof of the main store.

Shooting front door of the residence.  Post closes at 5:00 and I get the place to myself.

iphone notes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Day 2 AIR: on the road and Albuquerque.

  Slow roll out from Santa Rosa. Clocks all set an hour later to New Mexican time.   Out on the interstate I got a "check engine" light.  All lindicators holding steady so I throttled back to 62 and went to the first exit.  Eventually would up in Albuquerque. Found a high rated garage near the UNM campus. I'm in a VERY retro hotel on central down on what is suppossed to be the good part. Found the appointment for tomorrow. Met Kirk Gittings for an hour at Flying Star. Very interesting guy with lots of experience.

  Truck goes in tomorrow. I go to UNM.  Hopefully we all rejoin forces and roll West after that.

  Right now its windy and dusty with beautiful slanting light.  Ought to go to Albertsons over on Carlisle and grocery up. 

Day 1: Artist in Residence.

Woke up with wind whistling around the Best Western room door in Santa Rosa New Mexico. Ithe neighbors are clanking and talking and trucks whining by on I40 outside. Glad to be on bed with covers pulled up.

  630+ yesterday but today just meandering into Albuquerque. Hoping to connect with Kirk Gittings and finish food prep for out West. In the morning I get to see some Chaco Canyon Artifacts at Unm and then head over to Hubbell.

  Can't think of anything I have forgotten that is crucial. Truck packed like a gymbag- not very organized.
 Filling water bottles from Best Western Tap. The odd taste of water from strange places always lets you know you are travelling.

  Neighbors from Prescott, Arizona. Nancy Mattina, the writer was right in front of me as AIR st Hubbell. She's probably home now.

  At breakfast I was the only person with a legit logo T-shirt on, unless Banana Republic is an event and Old Navy actually has old boats. I'm TSRA rifle team. The hard way. I love people, but sometimes I see a clue that I'm not from their tribe. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring Bloom shut down.

 The bloom got hammered by the ice storm.  I've never seen this in 25 years of shooting some of these trees.  Pretty dramatic.  I got a couple rounds of shooting in but mostly was just scouting as the blooms were just a few days away from peaking.  Not a single one left in the county.  Waiting on the dogwoods.
White pear with dead blossoms.  There are a lot of starving bees around.

Here it is the day before the ice.

Been working this one for years.

Pulled out my new loppers and cleared some brush around a couple of these....then got iced.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Trade Goods.

When I am out among the First Nations, I might need something as a gift or swappable now and then.  Thought I would take a few of these French Opinel knives.  Great little blade- I first bought some from MSR- Mountain Safety Research, back in my rock-climbing days in the late 70s.  We saw much newer models in France with neopreme color handles, but you can't seem to get them here.  Perfect for camera bag.  These are No#8s.  Might buy the next size down.

  On buying cheap used copies of books about the SouthWest:" The Case of the Indian Trade,"which is about Hubbell Trading Post.  "The Witch Purge of 1878" also set at the post.  "The House of Rain" and "The Way out" along with "Finder's Keepers," all by Craig Childs.  "In Search of the Old Ones" and "The Pueblo Revolt" by David Roberts.  "Painted by a Distant Hand" about Mimbres pottery.  Canyon de Chelly: 100 Years of Painting and Photography.  "Anasazi, Ancient People of the Rock," a photo book by David Muench.  "The Book of Hopi."  A whole pile of books out of Mesa Verde, both old and new.  "House of Three Turkeys: Anasazi Redoubt," by Dave Bohn and Stephen Jett.  Quite a pile to work through, though I'm kind of a book a day guy.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The map is not the territory...

  On the other hand, you can't roll the territory up or write notes on it, so there's that.  Got on google maps and printed out a stretch of one of the most beautiful places on earth: Canyon del Muerto, Arizona.  I hope footwalk it a bit in April.  I got a good bit more of the layout in my head today, even saw some trees I had been shaded by.  Antelope House to Mummy Cave.  I expect to have a few versions of this kind of thing along when we go into the canyon.

  Hubbell Trading Post about 50 miles south.  Canyon can't be entered without a 35.00 an hour guide except in your imagination and dreams.

Lucy dogging alongside a taped-up representation of Canyon del Muerto.

Canyon de Chelly/ Canyon del Muerto complex is like the Louvre.  There is a masterpiece around every corner.  And...uh.....I love the Louvre....but CDC/CDM has better art.

  Antelope House Tours!   We used them for three 12-hour days in 2012.  They didn't know anything much,  (each guide had different names for the same sites), but were good enough if we needed to haul a babysitter around for 35.00 an hour.  Pleasant kids.  I'm sure I will book them again.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Begging to support the AIR at Hubbell.

About to start the begging to keep myself in film, Navajo guides, turkey sandwiches and gas for the Hubbell Artist-in-Residence.  200.00 gets you a big 19 inch epson print of this:  I have five ready to go.

Moonset, Shiprock, New Mexico, 1999.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Prepping for Hubbell Trading Post NHS Artist in Residence.

Miles to go and a whole lifetime of activities before I get there, but plenty to work on.  Spent the early morning trying to locate artists who had BEEN the AIRs and find out some info and just generally talk things over.  Hank Miller very helpful.  He's been on several AIRs including Yosemite in 1991.  Calls and emails out to several other folks.  Slowly building an information base.  I've got a brilliant idea for a project that I am trying to let marinate for a bit before I roll it out.  Might not be do-able but certainly worth asking about.  It would take some co-ordination with the site.

Tales From the Lens

A little feature from the Eastern Sierra Center for Photography.

Hubbell Trading Post Artist-in-Residence, April, 2014

Hubbell family residence stove-pipe.

  Thanks to some fancy letter writing by my friends and a timely application, plus....intervention of the Photography gods, I'll be at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site for a couple of weeks in April.

  They put us up in a stone hogan-like building on the grounds and you work away with a couple of public presentations tossed in.  I've been reading historical reports, ordering used books on, looking at topo maps and generally looking ahead.

  It's early on a Saturday and I just designed and ordered 500 business cards that say Hubbell Trading Post Artist-in-Residence.

  Hubbell is just a little short of Chinle, Arizona which is the gateway into Canyon de Chelly.  I'll be in and out of there a bit.  I've dropped into Hubbell on the way there since the early 70s.  The National Park Service still runs the trading post there so it ought to be an active place to work.  Quite a long and interesting history.  There is an old Pueblo III site on the park grounds, so it goes back a long ways.

In the family residence shooting baskets on the ceilings.

Extensive rifle rack.

Current native arts and crafts.

Katie in the kitchen.

Up in Canyon de Chelly.

  I'll be working mostly with my 5X7 and film, though I'm sure the digital will flow pretty thickly.  Driving out.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Still Life-ing Along.

I'm getting smarter, one 25 sheet box of 8X10 HP5 at a time, but it ain't easy...  I've always dipped in and out of still life, whether a momentary transfixtion with spinning gyros or wrapping a Shiprock chunk in snake skin.  When I got my hands on an 8X10 Deardorff I struggled with it outside for a bit but then parked it in the studio with a softbox on one side and started building sets.

  A couple of observations about still life. First: if the set-up isn't going to wilt, wither, quit spinning and fall over, melt, burn up or dry up, why bother?    A still life of a static set-up, like bones or bottles, isn't quite as good as the bones or bottles themselves, no?  So just do sculpture or assemblages instead and leave the camera out of it.  Photographic still life ought to have some hoop to jump through that actually requires a camera for it's imagery.  That usually means a time component.

  Second: still life is very hard.  Why is it hard?  Because, its a mind-flip from normal photographic reality.  Shoot a wedding- or a landscape, you are shooting a subject that you don't control.  There it is: make it happen.  Landscape, say something nice and simple, like the Grand Canyon or a blooming pear, is like imaging the mind of God....plenty hard, but pick the spot and get to work.  In still life you have to ASSEMBLE the mind of God.  The whole thing is in your hands.  And guess what?  Your hands are probably weak.  It's a tremendous task.  Shooting Half Dome- well, Half Dome is ready-built.  How about you imagine, construct, light, lens and CREATE something, and oh yes, please make it as least as good as a tourist shot of Half Dome.

  So I've got a little list of assemblages I am working through.  Some will work and some won't.  There's always a problem, or something unforeseen technically with the subject.  Ice.  Fire.  Tacki-wax too hard or too soft.  Lighting.  Posing.  More posing.

  So here I am warming up a month ago.  Nobody moving.  Funnel a gift from Debbie Fleming Caffery.

Busted crockery from a hotel in Connecticutt.

Tin can from estate sale, ebay nautilus.

I really enjoyed these images, but am searching for something on the next level.

I spent two weeks getting to this.

Stacked cups and added fire.  There's a lot more to this than it looks like, believe me. This is the FIRST version.  I learned.

There we go.

Starting point.

Got more complex...

Then a little grabbing and snatching.

I blew gently on the candles to get them to blossom.  That white doorknob was a gift from radula about 20 years ago.  Finally using it.  Coming back to this idea...

Then a nice simple hand....

Shooting at night.  Easier to see the image on the ground glass.

Glove mold borrowed from friends down the block.

And a slightly better idea..

This isn't even the last image.  It evolved.  I won't discuss the last idea I had with this, but it had me hopping up and down in the studio.

    Two exposures: one by a softbox for the image and another to add the flames.  It makes a big difference which one you shoot first.  See those drops of wax on the baseboard?  They flick away...IF you have sprayed the board with water.  If not, they soak in and ruin the board.  You wouldn't believe the gobos/reflectors/light-dams et. I used in just this one simple shot.  I'm even using a big dodging tool I built to block highlights on some of the one-minute softbox exposures.  

Catch-box for falling objects between the set and camera front.  I re-smashed a nautilus shell early before I rigged this up. It's caught several things.  I used the busted nautilus and liked it so much that now I am nervously contemplating breaking another nautilus.  Weird.

  Stuff freezing.  More stuff to stack.  Feathers.  Candles.  Knives.  Frozen tableware.  25 more sheets on the way from B& H.  

Here's one that didn't make the cut, but I KNOW why it didn't make the cut.  I'm doing more with backgrounds now, searching and learning.  Some of my stupid first ideas are evolving.