Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park
More generally, I target a range of abstraction that is between a what I call a strictly representational picture (for example, a pretty color postcard) and a totally abstract image where the viewer has no idea what the actual object being photographed is. In my first serious one-person photo show in 1981, which was very intentionally a market test of what viewers reacted to, I had a full range between those two extremes. Only artists liked the totally abstract, and the strictly representational photos were not considered art.
Abstraction and art seem to be connected to what makes us human. While I strive to capture the literal details of reality in my photographs, I also hope to have the forms trigger thoughts and emotions that go beyond what is actually pictured.
Fishing Boat, Ninilchick, Alaska
In 1969 I spent the summer working the Anchorage, AK. A summer in Alaska is a very beautiful and interesting experience for a life-long Southern Californian. One of the places I recalled as particularly picturesque was the little fishing village of Ninilchick, on the Kenai Peninsula.
Ninilchik (from the Athabaskan word meaning "lodge is built place") was a Dena'ina Athabaskan lodging area used for hunting and fishing. The first people who would permanently stay in the village were, apparently, Russian traders. A Russian Orthodox church stands on a hill just above where this shot was taken.
Fortunately, my return to Ninilchick after a 32 year absence was not a disappointment. While the village had changed, it was still picturesque.
However, what shocked me on this return trip to Alaska was the extent to which the glaciers had receded over that 32 year period. Climate change in the northern regions is way more dramatic than what we see in the rest of the U.S.
This image was recorded on Kodak medium format B&W film called "T400CN." This B&W film used color negative technology to give a finer (or more diffuse) grain structure. In its day, it was what some considered the state of the art for "high speed" ISO 400 film if fine grain was the goal.
This stop in Zion National Park was while driving back from teaching a workshop at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, in Snowmass Village, near Aspen, Colorado. Of the stops I made on that trek, the Narrows and the Indian ruins at Mesa Verde National Park were the highlights.
This shot was taken with a very old Rolleiflex twin-lens-reflex (TLR) camera that had the f/3.5 Xenotar lens on it. These old Rolleis are still very capable machines. That said, after a few outings with this Rollei, I was sufficiently impressed by the classic design to invest in a "newer" Rollei TLR, model GX, which has a build-in, behind-the-lens light meter and also has the famous Zeiss f/2.8 Planar lens. The upgrade was well worth the investment. It will be amont the very few film cameras I keep. The Rollei medium-format TLR cameras, like the 35mm Leicas, earned their place in photographic history for some very good reasons.
Our campsite was at 11,500 feet in elevation and very close to some shallow, crystal clear pools of water. These pools get warm enough for comfortable swimming. The easiest access to the area is the Pine Creek trail just north of Bishop. Honeymoon Lake is the place to stay if you like trees and a lower elevation.
The Granite Park photograph was taken on my first trip into the High Sierras after buying a Rollei SL66 camera in 1981. As such, the photo has special meaning to me. I used the Zeiss 150 mm Sonnar lens to capture the image. I at one time did a lot of lens testing using resolution charts/targets; this is the only lens I tested that hit 100 lp/mm on the film wide open (f/4).
This photo has always been a favorite of mine, in part because it was about the first shot I took with my then-new Rollie SL66. Unlike most medium format shooters, I bought only the 150 mm Sonnar lens at first. The film used was the late, great Panatomic X. Kodak discontinued Pan X long ago, but I had already switched to an even better fine grain film called Technical Pan. In addition to better reciprocity characteristics, its extended red sensitivity turned out to be very advantageous for B&W photography.