Just Some Stuff

Water and Ice

I’ve started to write this post several times and then deleted it and started over. I have a lot of ideas floating around, but I haven’t been able to form any of them into a coherent stream yet so I’m just going to throw out some ideas and do some housekeeping and see where it all leads in the next few weeks.

The show of my prints at the Image City gallery is officially over. After four weeks on the wall it was time to pull ’em down, bubble wrap ’em, and take ’em home. I sold one print out of forty five and raked in a whopping thirty eight bucks and change. Unfortunately I spent maybe a couple grand in framing costs and sundry fees. So you can see that I don’t take photos for the monetary rewards. I did get many encouraging comments from the visitors and some cogent insights from other photographers.

I really didn’t expect to sell many prints. The economy of course is not good which puts a damper on things. Mostly though I think that people find my photos interesting and maybe thought provoking, but it isn’t the kind of stuff they would want hanging over the sofa.
barbed wire

My stuff tends to be low key, high contrast, small scale, and a bit on the abstract side. As nature photos go they aren’t picturesque – i.e. not a lot of bright colors, balanced lighting, snow capped mountains, or wide vistas of well known landmarks. That’s OK. I love a good landscape photo myself. That’s just not my thing – at least not at the moment. So I’ll just keep shooting the things that interest me and see where it leads.

Which brings me to one idea that has been in the back of my mind for some time – where is “photography” in general headed? What does the future hold? Is the digital age making photography better or is it trivializing it? Is the future in museums and actual prints or is it in Flickr and digital files?

In the past art and photography in particular have played a huge role in drumming up support for public wilderness protection. Still true? Myself, I’m not seeing it, but is it the fault of photography or something endemic to our society?

For the most part this winter was a bust here in western NY. I don’t even know how to describe it. It wasn’t especially cold although a lot of days seemed that way. It wasn’t especially warm either. It always seemed to be snowing and blowing, but there never seemed to be any good snow around for building snowmen or for sledding.

Winter is lingering too. Here it is nearly the end of March and it still doesn’t feel like spring. Sure we’ve had some warmish days, but not the kind where you wake up and think woo hoo spring is finally here – the birds are singing, the sun is out, everybody is in t-shirts, riding bikes, eating lunch at the park, etc.

I went for a walk the other day at a stream I know well. I expected to see the usual spring chaos; water everywhere literally flying off the tops of the waterfalls and thundering down into the pools below – like giant fire hoses opened up full blast.

Neon

Well there was water flowing, but nothing exactly wild. The nights have still been well below freezing and the days luke warm so that the woods are clear of snow and are all brown and dry while the streams are still burdened with a fair amount of ice cover. The ice shapes are interesting and I spent a lot of time studying them and photographing them, but it just wasn’t the same. We’ll see how things go as Spring struggles onto the scene. I’m looking forward to apple blossom and then wildflower time.

Another project that I have been working on is self publishing a book. I created a book based on my gallery show through the Blurb service. I’ll be doing some future posts on the steps it took to do the layout and how the final results turned out.

I have a few other ideas, but this post is already too long and aimless so I will let you go.

MDW

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8 Responses to “Just Some Stuff”

  1. fencer Says:

    Hi forestrat,

    I’ve had that same experience in a group show with my paintings, although not as the featured artist, definitely, and not at such a high level of proficiency as you show with your photos. Framing, displaying, setting up and taking down… it’s a lot of work and money and maybe if you’re lucky one might be sold. Definitely for love not money. But it’s a lot like writing on a blog… one enjoys getting out there with one’s stuff, even if the world doesn’t particularly take notice.

    Hope to hear more about your self-publishing adventures… sounds like a great idea for you.

    Regards

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Your post with the cloth piece in it looks like a snail emerging…
    Am glad that after a month, you are back and posting.
    I don’t know what the answer is to selling art work. Nothing ever seems to work. I’ve seen some excellent painters out there (and photographers and print makers) and though the pieces are posted at a decent price, they never go. Not bitter grapes, but puzzlement.
    K

    • forestrat Says:

      K,

      The cloth thing does sort of look like a snail. My sister hangs these strips of cloth on the fences so that the horses won’t forget they are there and run into them when they get to “horsing around” so to speak. After a couple of years dangling there in all sorts of weather, they take on some interesting colors and textures.

      MDW

  3. flandrumhill Says:

    Did you know that endorphins are released when one is engaged in a creative activity? I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I made three 2’x2′ paintings in 24 hours. I haven’t felt that good in ages.

    It doesn’t matter if you sell one or all of your prints at a show. You’re still an artist. Personally, I think people need to develop a relationship with a piece of art before they make the commitment to buy it. There must be a local bar or restaurant that would appreciate having your art work displayed on their premises. (You could place a small sale sticker on the side of the frame). Use the bubble wrap for entertainment purposes next time the power goes out.

    As for the future of photography, I think the digital realm is where it’s going. When I look back on my Fine Art education and all the time I spent learning how to develop my own black and white photos in a darkroom, I feel like such a stegosaurus.

    • forestrat Says:

      So its the drugs that make me do it, eh? That would explain spending all my money and time on this photography deal!

      I’m not sure that I would go back to using film, but I really love the look and feel of chemical prints. I could see myself someday using a digital camera and then making wet prints. I know another photographer that does this now.

      When I go to museums and galleries to see photo exhibits, I always look at the prints from various angles to investigate the texture of the paper. I love the pearlescent glow of some of the old fiber papers.

      MDW

  4. cutthroat stalker Says:

    OK, call me crazy, but the Kubota picture caught my eye. I don’t know if you’re tractor-savvy, but I couldn’t help notice the “femininity” of their sign. Neon? What tough tractor company goes with neon? Check out that modern font they have for their branding. Look at any other tractor company (at least the ones I know of: Case, New Holland, John Deere, Massey Ferguson, Caterpillar) and their font is pretty traditional. Another thing, Kubota uses lowercase and each of the tractors I mentioned go with all caps. Tough. Strong. Manly.

    Hmmm… Okay, maybe Kubota isn’t “feminine,” but are they going after a different demographic? The New Age farmer? I can’t quite put my finger on it…

    Anything water-related is going to capture my eye, so I quite enjoy that first photo with the negative space highlighting the water and (ice?) in the middle. But the texture, especially that soft bokeh that really makes the cloth and rust pop on the barbed cloth picture is probably my favorite.

    Where is photography? Sheesh, I’ve got no clue. Having no training, background, etc. (not even a single art appreciation class) under my belt, I really don’t know where it has been, let alone where it is going. I don’t know about whether digital photography is making photography “better” or not, but I see it as maybe giving more options because of the post-processing options now available.

    I see a blurring of the lines between photographer and artists who use paint as a medium. Instead of just framing the shot, doing some cropping, dodging and burning in the developing room, the digital post-processor can really manipulate the picture, just like artists do with oils–there is almost an added physicality to the process that might not have been there before.

    At the elementary school I used to teach at we had a darkroom. I taught myself how to develop black and white negatives and make prints. I also taught my students. There was definitely something about manipulating the tools and feeling the paper and smelling the chemicals and watching the print emerge in the bath. That tactile sensuousness I also feel in holding a book in my hand instead of a Kindle or mousing through a screen.

    But maybe those are just nostalgic afterimages that really don’t have anything to do with the final product, the picture. I find joy in messing about with layers and masks and paths in Photoshop. But they’re different sensations than a darkroom.

    But I think my pictures are *much* better now than they were before. I can certainly make many more changes in a shorter amount of time with a lot less cost than I could with “real” negatives and prints.

    As far as money and art go, that’s tough. I love artwork, but I have almost none in my house.The cost is just too high for me to justify it. I don’t know why. I’d rather spend that kind of money on a new fly rod or gas to get to my next fishing destination. Maybe permanence is part of the problem. Spend all that money on a piece of art and you feel like you have to display it forever to get your money’s worth. Whereas look at art online, you can browse as long as you want. Change your computer wallpaper. Play with someone else’s work to make a montage or black and white out of their stuff.

    I’m sure it’s easy to get discouraged. But keep at it, there are people out here who appreciate your work.

    -scott c

    (sorry about the super long comment)

    • forestrat Says:

      Thanks for the comment cutthroat – I don’t mind long comments.

      I hadn’t thought about the Kubota font. They are a Japanese company and tend to make equipment on a relatively smaller scale, they sell worldwide, and they are going for an environmental twist. So maybe your new age farmer idea is pretty close to the mark.

      Personally I drive a Massey-Harris that was built in 1950. The thing has no brakes to speak of, loose steering, and sometimes parts fall off while I’m driving, but it just keeps on ticking. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

      We’ll see where I go with the “future of photography” thing. I hope to dig a little deeper than the typical digital vs. film debate that you see on most photo forums. Thanks for your thoughts. I think they’ll make for some good material.

      MDW

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