Robert Adams, in his Colorado Front Range documentary work of the tract home building boom of the 1960s and 1970s, has already done this. (See his book, The New West.) However, after nearly 50 years, perhaps it is time to revisit the topic given continued population growth (locally and world-wide), the effects of global warming and ocean acidification, wildlife habitat loss, extended drought and lowering water tables, and so on. How far can we push Mother Nature before she pushes back? Phoenix, Arizona, and San Antonio, Texas, are two other places where I have lived and witnessed the busy-bee bulldozers laying the scraped-dirt foundation for virtually unlimited suburban expansion...and, sadly, I am seeing Scene 1, Take 2 here in Colorado as well. (Although, thankfully, some communities have now recognized the importance of "open space" and parks for both the livelihood of humans and the well-being of the wild flora and fauna.) I suppose everyone wants to have their 1/16th of an acre of grass and their one-hour commute to work--the American Dream? Is it not possible, though, to slowly evolve our notions of how best to live on this Earth? Perhaps a new paradigm that values high density communities (with the resulting less costly transportation, health, and energy infrastructure) surrounded by wide open spaces for both agriculture and wildlife? In these images, the storm clouds that often appear in the sky or on the distant horizon, the glimpses of untouched Nature in the background, and the occasional American flag are not there by accident.
You remember, don't you? That class you took in college which traced the development of our western civilization from somewhere around the scientific revolution and Enlightenment to the present day? Where are we now as a result? In this portfolio, I move away from the traditional, natural or urban landscapes and I aim my lens more directly at our cultural landscape. Not all, but many of these images require study. Most aren't for the admirer of the simple or the superficial. There are often subtle elements in them that hint at various (even contradictory) interpretations. You will need to look carefully and let your eyes slowly adjust and refocus on each layer of the individual photograph. As usual, they are much more interesting as larger, physical, prints--your iPhone or iPad will not quite do them justice.
Women have made tremendous progress over the past century in terms of their political rights, roles in society, and with health issues. There is still a long and winding road ahead, though, to full and equal treatment and to the elimination of abuse--in some countries and cultures more than others. Interpret these as you like, although the titles will certainly point you in a general direction. A couple of these images are layered composites, but most are single photographs of tattered posters on a cement wall, captured with a small but capable point-and-shoot, the Sony RX100iv (in case you actually care about the tool used as much as the impact of the image) and prepared as a series of 18" x 12" prints.
The goal here is to challenge the viewer's preconceived notion of the appearance and meaning of NYC's skyscrapers. Sometimes the images are anchored, sometimes they float in space...always they will suggest a different, alien, world above the crowded streets. Native New Yorkers will likely enjoy identifying the structures. I have paired the color version with a monochrome counterpart although, in this series, I think the color versions have much more impact.
My approach in this portfolio was to deal with the alienation and isolation inherent in a city of this size, despite the fact that the humans there are in such close and constant physical contact. So, along with alienation and isolation, other emotions and ideas I tried to capture (some contradictory) were... immensity, propaganda (advertising), dehumanization, superhumanization (ego), beauty, engineering brilliance, nature's absence, repetition, compartmentalization, separation, entrapment, dreams, consumerism, violence, work, and so on. All except two images were captured with a telephoto lens in order to compress the perspective and isolate details. All, with a few exceptions, are monochrome images. We wonder when our society will become the Orwellian world of 1984, but with the ubiquitous use of doublespeak in politics, government, and advertising, and the ever increasing and extreme social, economic, and political inequality of this Second Gilded Age, maybe we already have. [NOTE: Prophetic statement, this last, given the extreme propaganda, manipulated news, fake news, and outright lies associated with the 2016 election cycle. Orwellian doublespeak, and the resultant easy manipulation of the emotionally charged and increasingly uninformed/uneducated masses, has most definitely arrived.]
Another exploration of the fantasy world of ice to be found in the local creeks and ponds during the winter months. Let your imagination go and you will see all kinds of structures, creatures, faces, and symbols. Does the ice reveal something of itself, or is it simply reflecting our own internal turmoils and machinations? The odd, personal, and subjective...hidden in plain sight.
I have always been an outdoors person, so capturing everything from wide-open landscapes to intimate natural details or abstracts is one of my favorite photographic activities. I tend to prefer monochrome versions of my images as color can often distract from what I consider the critical elements of composition, form, shape, tone and--most especially--mood.
This year, I was honored to be one of six artists selected by Boulder County as part of their 2016 Caribou Ranch Artist-in-Residence Program. From August 28th through September 3rd, I stayed in the iconic, comfy, and rustic red barn of the old DeLonde Homestead (not where the famous recording studio was, by the way) and spent my time contemplating the forests and meadows, meditating on the state of human politics, and photographing that which is truly important to us all, whether we realize it or not--the natural world. One week in a relatively small area with little to do but observe and you become intimately familiar with individual trees, bushes, anthills, and rocks. The light and weather constantly change, so the same subject on another day will take on a completely different personality. The experience was quite purifying. In this portfolio, I have posted a few of the better photographs from that week as well as a few made just a few days after the official end of my residency. Hopefully, with these pictures, I am able to communicate something of the emotion and beauty of this unique sub-alpine valley.
Can you hear the water in a photograph? If you look and listen carefully, just maybe you can. That was the goal with these recent images from nearby Eldorado Canyon State Park, or "Eldo" as the locals call it. Here, the spring waters of South Boulder Creek swerve, crash, smash, gurgle and boil their way through myriad sandstone boulders of all sizes and forms...the cleaved stone remnants that have separated from the high, techni-colored cliffs of Redgarden Wall, The Bastille, The Whale's Tail, the Wind Tower, and the West Ridge.
Now that I am [well!] over the age of 55, one of my new outdoor projects is what I call the "Colorado 14er Senior Challenge". The idea is to climb all of the peaks in Colorado that reach above 14,000 feet. Initially, I'll be working on the basic list of 53 summits, but my eye is on the extended list of 73. (This may take a few years!) The primary artistic goal is to come back with at least one high-quality image captured somewhere on each of these mountains--perhaps from the summit, but not necessarily. To get the best light, this means trying to arrive on top at first light or at least by sunrise (sunset is a backup option). On the easier hikes, this is not a problem, but on the more difficult ascents, those involving difficult, dangerous and/or exposed scrambling, this probably won't happen. In this gallery, I will choose one image from each of the Colorado 14ers, some in monochrome, some in color. I hope you enjoy this unique perspective on the Colorado high country!
Barcelona--our second home. You could spend a lifetime within its confines creating images of its people, architecture, festivals, parades and color. Picasso, Dalí, Gaudí, Miró, Serrat, Pau Casals--it is a city with a lively art tradition and with enough museums to keep you occupied for many months, if not years. I am always inspired to create when we travel there.
Cities are just as rich in photographic possibilities as is the land and nature. They are almost entirely human constructions, though, so they form an interesting counterpoint to the pure landscape--a counterpoint with both positive and negative ramifications. Not all, but many of these images come from the cities I tend to frequent: Denver, Boulder, Tucson and Barcelona, Catalunya.
Impromptu portraits of people on the street and street photography itself require a certain nerve which I am still developing. Henri Cartier-Bresson was the master of this kind of photography and was a genius at capturing what he called "the decisive moment" in the action. I tend to be much more motivated to attempt this kind of photography when I am in Europe (Barcelona, especially) as the people there seem to be much more accepting and less suspicious of the man with the camera than they are in the States.
I always notice aircraft in the sky--maybe it is the ex-aviator in me wishing I wasn't so "ex". Flying at Flight Level Three-Nine-Oh, sometimes the only evidence is a pathway of vapor arcing through the troposphere. Present, that is, with the right humidity level. Their source, of course: long aluminum tubes arrowing along at .8 Mach, filled with the murmur of human voices, dreams and expectations...punctuated by the clink of ice cubes dropping into plastic cups and the blast flush of the aero-toilet. Even in the deepest wilderness area, these human-filled metal sausages are constantly visible.
Even though "A Parking Lot" is a photo essay in which I explore the hidden world I found beneath my feet at a local hospital. It could have been created at any decaying parking lot anywhere as these strange worlds exist in all of them if you look hard enough. The discerning observer of such places will easily encounter all manner of figures, forms, shapes, and characters. All of these images were created within a two-hour period in January of 2012 at the Mapleton annex to the Boulder Community Hospital. This asphalt lot has since been repaired, so most of the figures and characters I found there no longer exist.