Panels of gold, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2010
The evening sun turned the wall of this dry goods store into three panels of glistening golden adobe. I used these panels to divide this image into thirds. The first third at left remains open, leading to the panel bearing the store sign, which gives us context for the locale. I waited until a silhouetted figure wearing a western hat entered the third panel, just in front of the sign, and made this image. I liked the jaunty upturned brim of the hat -- the abstracted figure symbolically comes to represent all who have lived in this quintessential western town over the decades.
All aboard, Durango and Silverton Railroad, Durango, Colorado, 2010
The bright yellow wall is the side of an old railroad car. The shadow is that of the conductor, shouting “all aboard” as the train prepares to leave Durango on its daily trip to Silverton and back. His hand gesture tells us that he is in command here, and by silhouetting him, I abstract him into a symbolic figure of authority.
Early morning walk, Durango, Colorado, 2010
The early morning light bathes the facades of an entire side of a residential street, creating a rhythmic series of the ten triangular peaks that carry the eye through the image to the walking silhouetted figure at lower right.
Energy, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2010
The adobe walls of Santa Fe’s historic La Fonda hotel play host to an energetic shadow, which animates this image. This shadow of a woman in full stride, stressing her cocked arm and clenched fist, ties the two pedestrians in this scene together by linking the arm positions of both. The swinging arms, both real and shadowy, carry the eye through the picture, and echo the other repeating vertical shapes that line the sidewalk.
Play of light, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2010
The soft curving flow of adobe architecture is often known as “Santa Fe Style.” It is at its best in the warm of light of morning or evening. In this image, which I made early in the morning, I layer the image by anchoring it with foliage, and then moving the eye through the colors and shapes of two different buildings. It is the play of light and shadow that separates one building from the other, and expresses the three-dimensional aspect of form, instead of the two-dimensional aspect of shape.
Evening in Santa Fe, Santa Fe, Mexico, 2010
Another aspect of Santa Fe style is the covered arcade, which appears on so many of the town’s commercial and institutional structures. In the early evening, the low, warm light can illuminate the walls within these arcades, providing a perfect background for the silhouetted shapes of the evening strollers that walk below them. This couple was just entering the arcade. I relate their shadowy figures to the repeating pillars that urge them forward.
First sweep, Cismigiu Garden, Bucharest, Romania, 2009
The light is glorious, streaming through the trees, creating a translucent canopy over a twisting curb that carries us deep into the scene. All I needed were actors on such a dazzling stage, and two street sweepers eventually arrived to assume the roles as they make their first sweep of the day. They come out of the shadowy foreground as if they are dancing, each thrusting their brooms in opposite direction, one of them standing where the curb breaks to the left, while the other, wearing a bright road coat, wanders off into the distance, towards the bright red flowers.
Smoke, Toronto, Canada, 2009
A smoker tapping ash from a cigarette outside of an office building is not in itself expressive subject matter. Rather, it is up to how we can photograph it to make it expressive. In this case, the smoker chose to stand within a pool of early morning light, casting a shadow on the marble wall behind her. She clutches a bottle of water in one hand, while using the other to tap the ash from her extended cigarette. A puff of smoke circles the fingers, while her highlighted expression remains passive. Using spot-metering mode, I expose on the sun-splashed wall, allowing the rest of the image to darken. The shadows embrace a row of softly focused red flowers at the base of the image, reminding us that smoking often casts a shadow on the quality of life itself.
Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park, Canada, 2009
This image is less an image of a waterfall, and more a study of light and shadow interacting on the mist rising from the gorge of the Athabasca River. The falls themselves provide background context, as do the rocks that surround the scene. Soft diagonal rays of light filter through the rising cloud of moisture, providing atmosphere that expresses the beauty of the falls more effectively than a descriptive scene.
Inner Harbor, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 2009
Late in the day, I like shooting into water that is backlighted by a setting sun. Deliberately underexposing the image, I blanket this busy harbor scene with watery texture, full of ripples, waves, and spray. The backlighting abstracts the water and creates silhouettes of the boats in the foreground, as well as of the seaplanes that wait to take off in the background. The harbor becomes a monochromatic abstraction, with only the red in the Canadian flag to remind us of reality.
The challenge of photography, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2009
Light, shadow, scale incongruity, and rhythmic repetition combine here to symbolically express the nature of photographic challenge. One of my tutorial students, photographing the park surrounding Scottsdale’s Civic Plaza, is dwarfed by a series of long shadows that engulf her. They lean to the left while she aims her camera to the right, ignoring their presence. Using a 14mm wideangle lens, I am able to move in on the scene to make detail visible, yet still retain the sweep of scale here. The lower half of the image is filled with dark grass, contrasting to the white wall that provides the backdrop here. The great pool of darkness underscores the nature of the challenge itself – photography itself is a journey of discovery, a journey through the unknown. Photographers often use a trial and error approach to find their ideas. I also remove the green tint that emerged from the ground and smudged the wall, converting the image to black and white and thereby keep it true to the origins of the medium itself.
Garden Wall, Tucson, Arizona, 2009
This shuttered window in Tucson’s historic district leads to a garden – we can see leaves forcing their way through the wooden shutters. I was struck by the effect of the early morning sun on the blue wall – it paints that wall, as well as the shutters within it, with dappled light. The shutters show the wear and tear of the seasons – they have seen the sun rise on them many times over the years. The play of light and shadow expresses a mood of timeless serenity.