Last January, I headed to Havana, Cuba with my photo buddy Doug Kaye for a wonderful week of photography organized by Kip Brundage of Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.
One of the best things about this week was that we had Cuban photographers out with us as we walked the neighborhoods in Havana. They really helped us see – and opened our eyes to the beautiful people and places in Havana.
One of the Cuban photographers we really benefited from working with was Raúl Cañibano. It was such a treat to be out in the neighborhoods with him – and watch him as he captured images along with us. Raúl works very quickly – with minimal gear. He’s got a great gift for seeing an image in the moment – and capturing it quickly.
While we were out working with him in Havana, he had a small portfolio book of his photography that he shared with us. It’s a beautiful small size – with some amazing black and white photography both in Havana and out in the countryside in Cuba. We wanted to buy a copy of this book – but he couldn’t sell it to us.
Raúl’s book recently become available for ordering on Amazon.com – and it’s a real delight. I keep it in my home office alongside my desk – for inspiration! Raúl’s eye and capture is a real treat for the eye! If you enjoy great black and white photography of real people, you’ll really enjoy Raúl’s small book!
Up early and having fun playing with various iPad photo editing apps. This is that Ford pickup truck shot from yesterday but tweaked a bit in Painteresque and Photoshop Touch.
A lot more interesting with this treatment!
Author Timothy Egan has a new book out about the great American photographer Edward Curtis titled “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis“.
Egan is a wonderful writer – having written for the New York Times for many years – and, more recently, also author of the book The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl which was provided some of the background for Ken Burns’ recent file The Dust Bowl. He picks great but somewhat obscure subjects for his writing – and that’s a big part of why his work is so interesting.
I remember first hearing about Edward Curtis from photographer Trey Ratcliff who described Curtis as his “favorite photographer“.
After Trey turned me on to Curtis, I began exploring his images in the Library of Congress just over a year ago – and wrote about it here. I picked two of his images to experiment with – “Kutenai Duck Hunter” (see above) and a lovely Eskimo woman named “Ola”. I described how I did my adjustments for both images here.
I’ve just begun reading Egan’s book on Edward Curtis. So far, it’s another great read. Deborah Solomon recently reviewed the book for the New York Times.
A friend of mine, Ventura-based Denise Dewire, has posted some beautiful fall color images taken on a recent visit to Yosemite.
Denise and I met earlier this fall in another fall colors workshop in the eastern Sierra. We’re both Canon 5D Mark II shooters – and she makes some great images!
Be sure to also check out her portfolio on 500px!
Printed in Italy? Not what I might have expected. Maybe printed in Hong Kong, or China, or …? The wonderful new book about Ansel Adams by Andrea Stillman is – yep – printed in Italy. Published by long time Adams’ publisher Little, Brown – I wonder why it was “printed in Italy”? But, that’s just a curiosity.
The book itself is a delight. “Looking at Ansel Adams: The Photographs and the Man” shares Stillman’s insights and perspectives as Adams’ former assistant. She’s selected twenty of his photographs for exploration in the book. “Ten of the twenty are among what I call Ansel’s ‘greatest hits’”, she writes. But she also includes ten others – less familiar Adams’ images. Her scope is just right.
Two years ago this month, my late friend Chris Gulker and I drove south from Menlo Park to take in a unique exhibition of Ansel Adams prints at the Monterey Museum of Art. It was a very special trip for the two of us – Chris was a very talented black and white photographer and he was an avid student of Adams’ work. I walked Chris through the exhibition in his wheel chair – taking it slow and listening to his commentary on each photograph along the way. He blogged about it.
Along the way, we met up with the owner of this exhibition’s “Museum Set” – Adams’ daughter Anne Adams Helms. She was spending a few hours at the museum and enjoyed talking about her Dad. Chris asked about the difference in the way Adams printed his images over the course of his lifetime – and Anne talked about how the prints evolved to be darker late in his life.
One of Chris’ favorite Adams’ images is perhaps his best known – Moonrise. In the book, Stillman tells the story of this image – illustrating the evolution of Adams’ prints as he darkened the image over the years. The print of Moonrise at the exhibition was one of the darker ones – the Museum Sets having been printed late in his life. Chris just loved it – perhaps his most favorite image.
I learned a lot from this trip to Monterey with Chris as we shared our feelings about the special black and white imagery of Ansel Adams. Stillman’s personal remembrances in her new book bring back those memories to me again. A very special work – highly recommended!
In today’s New York Times Sunday Magazine, artist Idris Khan was featured. His multiple image black and white compositions of London are quite striking – with great depth. They capture your eye – and keep your eyes in the frame. Great work, indeed. Really great.
Khan’s images remind me of another of my favorite local artists – Pep Ventosa. Pep is another master of this kind of multiple image compositions – in color.
Both of these artists obviously spend a lot of time both working their subjects in the field and in Photoshop as they compose their art.
I love ‘em both!
In my reading about the great American photographer Walker Evans, I stumbled across this quote from Evans in his advice to his photography students at Yale (as cited in Walker Evans at Work):
“Work alone if you can. Girls are particularly distracting, and you want to concentrate; you *have* to. This is not anti-feminism; it is common sense. Companions you may be with, unless perfectly patient and slavish to your genius, are bored stiff with what you’re doing. This will make itself felt and ruin your concentrated, sustained purpose.”
It is so easy to get lost in yourself when shooting images – and the work almost demands it. Evans’ advice rings very true for me!
Loved this – from “Walker Evans at Work“:
“Evans’s lifelong habit was to make several versions of each picture, often with different lenses or cameras. The reasons for this practice have to do with the photographer’s many-leveled relationship to his world. A photographer responds to a world of things which he at once sees, experiences and understands. When he is faced with stimulating subject matter, his immediate task is to make what sense he can of the components of seeing – camera distance, perspective, framing, light and gesture, all of which may be telling him important, perhaps contradictory, things at the same time. In addition, he is bedeviled by connections his mind is making between what he sees and what he knows – what he has read and lived, pictures he has seen, how he was raised, and a thousand other things. To be a good artist means to devise a personal strategy for reconciling the elements of this rich assault.”
This afternoon I began exploring the images of American photographer Edward S. Curtis archived at the Library of Congress. You can learn more about him here.
There’s a treasure trove of public domain images in his collection at the Library of Congress – and I was looking for new subjects to experiment with some Photoshop post-processing techniques. So I picked a couple of his images and went to work.
The first is this image he titled “Kutenai Duck Hunter” – below is my processed version:
I ended up with fourteen or so layers in Photoshop making adjustments to this image. It was a fascinating experience as I tried to apply some of my recent learnings to this image! Continue reading