Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dark Magic...

Why do we fear the dark? Does God fear the dark?

"...This is a world you'll never understand. And you always fear what you don't understand. "

- Quoted from Batman Begins

I'm posting this picture out of sequence with my trip log, but I figure who really cares? Maybe tomorrow I'll throw on a picture from Italy, I don't know. In any case, this shot is taken in Badlands National Park. At the South end of the Northern Unit is a small and secluded little campground. It is very remote. A few other campers were there, but it almost seemed as though I was all by myself. I was out shooting pictures when the storm rolled in right before dark. The wind kicked up and rolled across the tall grasses. As I stood out there in the middle of the field with the tall grasses all around me, it felt strange. Between the wind gusts, it was perfectly still. The prairie dogs disappeared, and it was as if the mountain was bidding everything to be still for the approaching storm. In the distance, the lightening bolts lit up the sky. It was menacing and scary, yet it was calm and serene, in it all there seemed a strange sort of darkness. I felt completely alone, and for that moment, it felt good. Just me and the Badlands.

I went to sleep that night in the truck with a sort of calm serenity about me. During the night, it rain and rained. I remember stirring enough to realize that it was raining. In the morning, the sun came out and it was beautiful. It had rained a lot, and the river nearby was swollen. The clay mud caked up on my shoes as I walked around. The dry grasses were heavily laden with water droplets. I packed up and left, marking it down as one of my favorite stops on the trip.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sacred Grove on Smith Farm in Palmyra NY

I spent about twenty hours out of a 48 hour period right in this grove, wandering around, sitting and thinking, and taking photographs in an effort to catch a "definitive shot" that would portray the spirit and feeling of this place for those that have been here, and those that have spiritual roots attached to this place. I have several really great shots, but I think that this is the one shot I would pick if I could only pick one.

I had been shooting the night before and I was thinking to myself that it would be perfect if I could have some fog to filter the light. That night I set my alarm for abut 5:00 am with the intent of going out and catching some early morning light. On the drive from my hotel to the farm, I was surprised and elated to be immersed in some really heavy and dense fog. It felt like magic.

Upon reaching the grove, at first it didn't seem that the fog was in the grove very much. It seemed confined mostly to the fields. I was a bit disappointed, but I started shooting and I was getting some pretty good stuff. I had already been there an hour or so when I took this. Until I took this shot, I didn't really feel like I could leave Palmyra. I really wanted a good shot of this grove and I didn't get it until that morning. I did end up staying the rest of the day and taking some more that evening though, just for kicks.

When I left Palmyra, I was shot. I felt emotionally and creatively drained. I was sleep deprived and food deprived. It was almost like the time spent there and sucked it all out of me.

Given my personal investment in this photograph, I am intensely interested in the public response to it. I would welcome some feedback, but I want you to be totally honest about it. If it doesn't affect you, don't be afraid to say, "Dude, it's just trees and sunlight." I'll understand. :) Of course, your viewing it on a 3x4 computer image. You need to see it on a 24x30 canvass.

Check out these other shots of the grove and the Smith farm:

Tribute (My personal favorite)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Smith Farm in Palmyra, NY...

The first part of my trip really turned into a Mormon church history tour. I was right there, so I spent two and a half days at Palmyra. These shots are taken at the Smith farm one morning as the fog was dispersing. I spent most of my time in Palmyra right here on this farm trying to capture the intangible. I wanted to capture something in these pictures that would make them meaningful to people with Mormon background, who will tend to hold it as a sacred place. Hopefully it worked.

This shot has a lot of distance invovled, and I think that it might make a good large format print.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm Back!!!

I'm back from my trip. The stats are in:

A couple thousand miles flown, 3,518 miles driven, 11 days on the road, 11 states, 1 province of Canada, and few a thousand photographs.

Pretty wild really. Many thanks to Sam for purchasing his truck in New York and letting me go and get it for him. It really made for an interesting experience. I will be posting a few pictures as I get to doing it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Answer....

Awhile back in this blog, I posed a question. I asked if it was really possible that a piece of art could change a persons life. I also wondered if it was worth pursuing its creation. Today, I got my answer to both of those questions.

I have a certain promise that I made once that I would accomplish a certain task for someone. I frequently have been in complete despair that the situation would ever be such that I could fulfill that promise. I have doubted, questioned, wondered, and about everything in between.

Close by Niagara Falls, in Ontario, Canada there sits a quaint little town named Niagara-on-the-lake. I have been in New York for a couple of days now, and I had planned to go to Niagara Falls while I was here. At the insistence of a friend of mine, I decided to visit this little town. I arrived here at about noon today and I found my way through the crowds of people and finally parked. I wondered what on earth I was doing here right in the middle of tourist season. I parked right next to a church with an adjoining cemetery and I walked through the cemetery.

For some reason, I stopped by a headstone and stared at it for some time. I read the names and dates several times. It was the grave of a man and his wife. I noticed that the wife was about ten years younger then him. For some reason, I just stood there and stared at it. He had died well before her. I wondered what their lives had been like. How they met, what experiences they had.

I wandered across the street where there was a sort of extension of the cemetery. There was a small area there that was fenced in and there were about twenty graves in there. The plaque that was mounted there explained that the area was a memorial dedicated to a group of Polish solders. Out of about fifty then 24 or 25 had died because of sickness during training. I thought for a moment about the ravages of war and then I snapped a picture without even trying to compose it and I wandered down the street. I wondered again why I was in this town.

I crossed the street and walked along the shops there. I went in a building that said it was a gallery. It was interesting, but there wasn’t much in it that I cared for. I continued down the street and I saw this very pleasant looking house there. I took a picture of it because I liked the way that it looked and then I realized that it had a sign on the door that indicated that it was a gallery also. The Trisha Romance gallery. Being the romantic that I am, I was intrigued. So I wandered up the path and walked in. On entering the house, I was immediately pleased. It was decorated nicely with the artist's paintings hanging on all of the walls. They had kept the feel of it being a house with individual rooms, but they had opened all of the rooms up, so there were wide doorways without doors. They extended the gallery to the upstairs. Most of the rooms were furnished with small side tables and soft chairs. It was very nice and felt like a home, except that there were paintings around on all of the walls and tables. The gallery even extended up the classic wood staircase and filled the upstairs rooms as well.

On a table by the front window was a book with the a lot of the artist's work in it. I flipped through it, and I was caught by a couple of images but one in particular really jumped out at me. I stared at the lighting and the people portrayed in it.

I wandered through the gallery, and then I ran into the same picture in a canvass edition, on one of the walls. I just stood there and stared at it. I wandered through the whole gallery for a couple of hours. I talked with the painters daughter, who was there and also had her own paintings for sale there. But I kept returning to the one painting. The scene seemed to reach deep inside me and touch an element of my soul.

It was simple really. A beautiful lady sits comfortably on a couch, there are windows letting a soft light into the room. A fireplace gives a feeling of warmth to the whole scene and there are bookcases stacked on either side of it. There are comfortable chairs in the room, and in the center of the room is a table with two little girls working at it. They are writing on some Christmas cards. The lady sitting on the couch reads other cards to them. One of the little girls looks up at her mother while she reads.

I cannot possibly put words to how this painting affected me. And it was there, while I stood in that gallery, that I was struck by what this lady had done. The old house was converted into a wonderful gallery. And each painting was filled with emotion and meaning. And while I stood there, I thought to myself that it was exactly what I wanted. Something that felt warm, inviting, and pleasant. Perhaps with a studio in the basement. I began to change my whole idea of what I though that I wanted in terms of a studio/gallery. Maybe a house rather then a commercial building. Something that could feel as warm and inviting as this place.

And there was the painting. I pulled her daughter aside and asked her to please tell her mom, that I was deeply touched by the whole experience and especially the painting. I explained to her that my question over the last few months had been thus: Was the pursuit and creation of art really worth it? Could it affect and change peoples lives? I told her that the painting had answered that for me, because when I looked at it,then I was reminded of some of the most important promises, hopes and dreams. It seemed to touch some of the deepest parts of my soul. And because of that, if I allowed it to, then it would change my life.

I didn’t buy that painting today, but I will own it someday. You can mark it down. I’m going to save some every month until I can buy it. It really changed my perspective on things. Somehow, that painting has embedded in it what it needs to remind me of my promise. It helps me realize the importance of that promise and it helps me believe that it is all possible.

So yes, art might very well change peoples lives. At the least, then it can remind them what really matters. And because of this, then it is worth pursuing its creation. I believe that I am finally persuaded of this. And the other thing that it did was help me to realize that it is okay to charge for your work. I would pay that lady for that painting. I would save if it took five years to buy that painting. And I think that it would be worth it. Because of what it does inside of me. I sat there in the store and I just looked at it for a long time.

I admire Trisha for her gallery, for what she has created and for the paintings that have the capacity to inspire. I was deeply moved by it all today, and I thank her for that. I will have a gallery like that someday with a studio attached. Just watch and see.