Caleche, Marrakesh, 2006
These horse drawn carriages are a Marrakesh tradition and seem to fit naturally into the old streets of the city. I photographed this one around sunset, exposing for the brightest spot on the pavement to abstract the oncoming horses, the driver and the people waiting to cross the street behind the tree.
Moose, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 2006
I was fortunate to be able to abstract this female moose with backlighting. The early morning sunlight creates a rim of light around her body, and illuminates the water dripping from her mouth. The backlighting also picks up the gold in the grasses both in the foreground and background. The body of the moose is left in deep shadow, leaving the details of her appearance to the imagination of the viewer.
Reeds, Mount Carmel, Utah, 2006
Using my spot meter, the sidelight of an early morning sun allows me to bring out the color and texture of these reeds, while putting the background into shadow. This simplifies the image, removing all distractions and clutter from the scene. The stage is left to the reeds alone, glowing in a deeply shadowed world.
Sunrise, Bryce Canyon, Utah, 2006
I underexpose this sunrise to abstract the image, intensifying the rich colors of the sun as it sends a single beam of light through the clouds, as well as illuminating the sky. Nature hides the sun itself, and I hide details of the earth and clouds in turn. What is left is the essence of the scene – the power of light and color.
Mormon Tabernacle, Paris, Utah, 2006
The Mormon Tabernacle in Paris, Utah, is 118 years old, and was designed by the son of Mormon leader Brigham Young. The morning I visited it, I was struck by the way the sun hit one of its delicate spires while at the same time the tabernacle’s decorative motif glow softly in reflective light. While only a very small part of the structure appears in my image, it is enough to give a viewer a sense of both time and place.
Graffiti, Fifth Avenue, New York City, 2006
Given the upscale nature of New York’s Fifth Avenue, one does not expect to find inscriptions of this kind on its buildings. But Fifth Avenue is not always upscale. As it threads its way below 23rd Street, Fifth Avenue becomes a hodgepodge of commerce.
Many of its buildings are derelicts, such as this one, buildings either being slowly taken apart or being renovated. Graffiti artists throng to such structures, leaving their mark on a city and its buildings. It appears as if somebody has neatly painted a cross on the remaining red bricks with a roller. Other followed, leaving five or six signatures over the cross. The neatly painted red bricks hosting the graffiti contrasts strongly to the shadowy brick that is fading all around it. All of which holds the seeds of a successful expressive image. But the deal was sealed for me by the flow of light and the presence of shadows within the scaffolding that enveloped this structure. It allows me to begin my image in the upper left hand corner, and then follow a symbolic ray of light down along a diagonal until it expands into an illuminated square that holds the graffiti.
Forgotten, Mohonk Museum Attic, New Paltz, New York, 2006
It is not often that one visits a resort so old that it has its own museum. Such is the case at Mohonk Mountain House, a Victorian resort founded in 1869. As the resort ages, its museum, housed in a barn on the grounds, grows apace. I spent several hours prowling its crowded floors, filled with fascinating 19th and 20th Century artifacts of a country hotel. In a corner of the museum’s attic, I found a small dimly lit room housing dusty registers of hotel guests, going back to the 1870s. On a shelf above some of those registers stood three painted plaster busts. In another era, they might have adorned the hotel’s lobby or dining room. Forgotten and unseen, their colors are faded and their plaster is chipped. Yet they still carry themselves with dignity as they hold their poses from another time. I isolate them in the light from a distant window by using spot-metering and a hand-held shutter speed of 1/13th of a second. The guest registers are barely visible, their contents out of sight and out of mind. It is said by some that Mohonk is haunted by ghosts from its past. If so, it would not surprise me if some of them might live in this room.
Gothic arches, Florence, Oregon, 2006
The architecture of this 1936 bridge over the Siuslaw River is beautiful in itself. At dusk I was able to abstract this architecture, using the golden light and deep shadows created by the setting sun. Some might find the light illuminating the tiny red directional sign in the middle of the bridge to be distracting. I found it added a new dimension to meaning – the old bridge has always carried traffic in two directions, and the sign can be viewed as a symbol of life as a two way street. Our trip's co-leader, Winn Krafton, chose to photograph the entire bridge at the same moment, using the golden light to tell an entirely different story. See it by clicking the thumbnail below.
Creek shadows, Reedsport, Oregon, 2006
Rather than show the bridge itself, I photographed the shadows on the columns beneath it. The shadows create a series of repeating arrows echoing the gradual rise of the tall grass that lines the creek. The subject of the picture is not really the bridge – it is the interplay of light and shadow on the bridge and its surroundings.
Race to the future, Phoenix, Arizona, 2006
Darkness can convey the mystery of the unknown. But so can brightness. I photographed a number of cars speeding through an underpass in the heart of downtown Phoenix. The underpass ends in a blaze of over-exposure, burning out all of the pixels in that area of the picture. Photographic purists view burnout – the loss of all pixel detail -- as an exposure mistake. But as an expressive photographer, I deliberately use burnout here to symbolize meaning. In this instance, burnout provides a metaphor for what lies ahead of this car that appears to be racing towards the future: a dazzlingly bright, unknown destination. I heighten the illusion of speed by using a slow shutter speed that blurs the car, stretching its tail lights into red streaks. I use a wideangle lens in a wide format camera to extend that blur and hasten this car towards its destination. The long railing and facing wall of arches also accelerate its headlong rush towards the blazing hole at the end of the tunnel.
Deliveries, Old Town, Lijiang, China, 2006
It is just after dawn. The morning flood of tourists has yet to descend en masse on Lijiang's Old Town. Yet this man is already making his deliveries to one of its many restaurants. At this hour, the town is at its most genuine. What we see is the workings of a town, not the commercial facade created to draw tourists. It is a quiet, almost private time of day here. I made this image to speak of that quiet. He seems to tip toe through the door, with his handcart by his side. He is backlighted. The golden light brushes his hat, the doorframe, boxes, and floor. All else is dark. To prevent my camera from trying to “expose” this image “properly” by “balancing light and dark into gray” I use a spot meter. I meter only on the bright door panel, exposing it perfectly. Almost everything else in the image falls into abstract shadow.
Demo man, Beijing, China, 2006
Demolition crews work late, and often with primitive equipment, to smash the old in order to make the new in booming Beijing. I photographed this man at work on and off from various positions for nearly ten minutes, watching the sun swiftly work its way ever downward. Finally the sun reached the arc of his swing. Spot-metering off the sun itself, everything becomes shadow except for the golden sky and white-hot sun. The buildings are abstracted geometric shapes. We have no idea how big or how small they may be. They become symbols of a city, nothing more. Using the multiple frame option, I hold the shutter button down as he begins his downward swing. Three frames are exposed within a second. One of them is dead on – the back of the man and the shaft of the hammer are complementary diagonals, and the hammer slices into the sun itself.