Assignment: Please research and find 3 photos by 3 different photographers done in large format. Do some outside research about the photograph/er, and write a few sentences as to why you picked these photos. Be creative and try to avoid “traditional landscape” photos or older/more famous photographs – find something somewhat contemporary.
I didn’t exactly follow directions – I tend to go beyond the basic perimeters, especially when looking through a single artists’ work. I have trouble limiting myself to one image if I find three. So here, I have 7 photographs – 3 by Gordon Osmundson (in black and white), one by Matus Kalisky (in color), and three photos that are a sort of triptych by Tommy Oshima (in black and white).
Each has its own reason and although they are all shot with large format cameras, they really do not have much in common other than the sheer detail visible in the works. The black and white pieces play off each other because of the way they play with light, as black and white is wont to do, however the color one is starkly different from the others, if only because it is in color.
All of them call to mind a feeling of abandonment, of being left behind, of a story untold, unknown, or waiting to be discovered.
Form in Sands
Corta Madera Wye, Larkspur, California, 1973
Light Falls #3, East Ely, Nevada, 1996
- “n 1996 I made a couple of trips to Colorado, I stopped in Ely both times. On the second trip I went into the machine shop and spent some time inspecting the work being done on the #93 which was being repaired after a head on collision with a runaway flat car on the grade up to Keystone. After doing some photographs in the machine shop, I went through the door into the engine house.
I was greeted by a stunning sight. It was Friday and the #40 was being steamed up for the next days run. Although the engines smoke stack was under one of the buildings smoke jacks, smoke still curled through the room. In the ceiling of this large dark room were clerestory lites (vertical skylights) running the length of the room. The sun was at such an elevation in the sky that it cast a broad narrow beam down from the clerestory lites. This beam lit up the smoke creating a gossamer curtain of light running the length of the room.
I looked at this curtain of light and I said to myself “If I can see it, I can photograph it.” The challenge was to work it into a composition. I got my camera and set it up. Next I used a card with a 4×5 hole cut in it to isolate scenes and frame compositions. I worked out a composition looking up into the lites with the curtain of light streaming down toward the camera. Visible through the curtain, the ends of rail cars lurked in the shadows. I did several exposures using both of the Grandagon lenses. In each exposure the curtain was different as the smoke drifted through the room.
I expected the sun to move and the curtain of light to vanish, but the path the sun took through the sky was mostly parallel to the clerestory and the light held for some time. I had something that seemed, and later proved, to be satisfactory, so now I could take my time in exploring the room and seeing what else could be done. I did several more images from the open isle under the clerestory down the center of the room then walked down between the rotary snowplow and the wrecker with its tender.
The boom of the wrecker, with its hook hanging down, loomed up on my left. Behind it was another curtain of light from a second clerestory. Space was very tight and the only way to work was with the Grandagons. The whole thing was so overwhelming I had to suspend critical judgement and I shut off my internal dialog. But I didn’t stop working. I have noticed this happen before, if I’m working alone with a productive subject, I find that I just don’t have to think about what I’m doing. I just know what to do and do it instinctively. My awareness of what I’m doing is very acute. I made two compositions one aimed at the body of the wrecker with the boom on the left, the other is the one you see here. It doesn’t have the kind of balanced symmetry I usually strive for, suspended judgement, but the forms are very dynamic. I titled this image “Hook and Boom.”
With the deep shadows and bright sunlit areas there was a lot of contrast. N-2 development was indicated and this was accomplished in a two solution D-23/Borax developer. I have printed this negative a number of times. At first it was printed medium on #2 Galerie, 1 1/4 minutes Selctol Soft and 1-3/4 minutes Dektol. Then, sometime around early 1997, Ilford made a change in Galerie, a change they will not acknowledge, and it lost about a half to 2/3 of a grade of contrast. I now print this image with two minutes Dektol and no Selctol. The prints get quite a bit of edge and corner burning and the curtain of light above the boom gets burned in slightly.
I chose this work because of the light. I love the way Osmundson works with light, particularly in the second piece. The heavy directional curtain of light is just stunning. I am a fan of industrial and abandoned imagery and there’s something so striking about these three pieces. There is a very nice formal quality to the first piece – the repetition and rhythm in the concrete poles and the detail in the way the light reflects in the water is just incredible.
Slovakia, Spisska Nova Ves – (west settlement) – photographed from 7th floor.
The aerial perspective on this piece is very unique and fascinating. I always found myself wanting to photograph from my balcony, the simple lives of others as documented in the things I saw below – courtyards, parking structures, bicycles, garbage. The way people leave their environments is fascinating to me and is an evidence of a life. Formally, this piece is quite nicely arranged – the buildings have a nice variation of color and surround the courtyard in a triangular shape which is then crisscrossed with lines in the grass. This is somewhere between a courtyard and a ruin – a playground and a disaster. It seems somewhat unsafe, perhaps, but it reminds me of a memory – a childhood lost through time. It is incredibly striking.
Graffoto (January 2007, Tokyo)
Graflex Speed Graphics+Ektar 127mm f4.7+Polaroid type 55 film
photographing of a work by an anonymous street photographer
photographing of a work by an anonymous street photographer
- ….I had a chance to come across the “street exhibition” (by the unknown photographer) spot a week later, and found out that it’s still there. Just that there are only 5 shots left on the wall. Nobody knows where the rest has gone.
Random installation art is so fascinating. This simple 4×5 grid of photos – why would an artist choose to place these here? What is the artist saying in these photos? This documentation of this art installation tells us nothing about the installation except that it exists and documents what happens to it over time. Did people take the photographs? What moved them to do so? Did the wind or elements removed them? Where did they go? Did anyone ever find them and wonder why they were there or what they meant or place a personal significance to them? This kind of found item inspires a sort of melancholy in me that I have a sort of guilty pleasure for – the old, the found, the things with histories we will never know. These things drive me and make me wonder and dream. The documentation of such a thing is intriguing. It bears mentioning that this is a 4×5 grid of prints shot with a 4×5 camera – is that a statement, too? How interesting.