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Photography Stanford

Now at Cantor: Outside Looking In

Last year The Capital Group Foundation gifted a remarkable collection of over a thousand 20th century American photographs to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford. Cantor has been exhibiting from this collection – beginning with last fall’s display of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston photographs. Today the next exhibition is now up – with photographs from John Gutmann, Helen Levitt, and Wright Morris.

Each of these photographers has a distinctive style which this exhibition mixes beautifully. I was not familiar with Gutmann’s work – but really enjoyed discovering how he captured moments from unique perspectives. Levitt’s New York City photographs (in a mix of both black and white and color) are more familar. Morris’ photographs from the American midwest are uniquely different yet again.

Here’s one of Gutmann’s photographs on the cover of the brochure available at the exhibition which is sitting in my lap. Such a great image with that hand coming out of the broken window!

If you’re able, be sure to visit Cantor between now and April 26, 2020. Cantor doesn’t charge admission – making it a delight for me who lives about 10 minutes away enabling frequent visits! Parking can be challenging up until 4 PM during the week but very available on most weekends. Cantor is open six days each week – closing on Tuesdays.

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Art and Artists Photography Photography - Black & White Stanford

Another Ansel

I recently visited Cantor Art Museum at Stanford to see a temporary small exhibition of Ansel Adams’ work: Surf Sequence. It’s an exhibition of five of his photographs taken in 1940 along the San Mateo county coastline looking down at the surf as the waves move in and out over the sand.

Surf Sequence

They’re beautiful images – as usual with his work. Even more interesting to me, however, were two other images on the opposite wall taken in the late 1920’s of a skier coming down a ski run on Mount Watkins in Yosemite (both images shown below taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max).

Skiing on Mount Watkins, Yosemite High Sierra
Skiing on Mount Watkins, Yosemite High Sierra

These images remind me of one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s drawings – Winter Road – although I’m sure one didn’t directly influence the other!

Winter Road

Winter Road comes from one of O’Keeffe’s books of early drawings and we studied it along with some of her other work during a workshop I attended last summer in Santa Fe. The image above was taken with my iPhone at a wonderful exhibition of her work – Living Modern – that I saw last August at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.

I’ve seen a lot of Ansel Adams photographs over the years – but these were new to me. There so different from his usual Yosemite work but very “musical” in some sense. There’s a certain calligraphic look in all of these images – pen strokes that vary in width. Others might see other things – finger patterns in the frost on glass in the wintertime, etc.

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Compact HDR HDR Photography Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon PowerShot S95 Photomatix Pro Stanford

The Power of Black and White – Canon S95 HDR

Maybe it’s the visit to the Ansel Adams show with Chris on Saturday that has sent me over the edge, but I’m continually intrigued by how one can take a color photo and turn it into a much more powerful black and white image.

See the photo below – it’s #3 from my initial Canon S95 HDR post earlier this morning.

Rodin's Gates of Hell @ Stanford

Frankly, I didn’t spend much time on this photo – the point was to provide it (a traditional HDR post-processed shot) as a point of comparison with the new in-camera HDR feature built-in to the S95.

As I was looking at it, I wondered how a conversion to black and white might look – now that I’ve become acquainted and familiar with Lightroom 3’s excellent Black and White Mix controls.

So, I gave it a shot – here’s the result – after about 10 minutes of tweaking in Lightroom:

Rodin's Gates of Hell - Canon PowerShot S95 - HDR

Obviously, it’s the same subject as the original photo – Rodin’s Gates of Hell – but it’s been transformed into a more powerful photograph through the conversion to black and white.

I also experimented for the first time using the new Lens Correction features in Lightroom 3 – to remove the distortion in terms of angle, etc. that I had in the original image. It now looks very close to a direct, head-on shot at the scuplture.

Finally, I tweaked it in Flickr – using Picnik to add a museum frame around it – dressing it up a bit.

I like the result. What do you think?

You may also want to view my Flickr set of Canon S95 HDRs taken this morning at Stanford.