It is my last week of having mostly free days; next week I start working full time day hours instead of my night shift. I figured I would put up the images I captured during my last week of being able to go out and shoot everyday. I has been a lot of fun getting out in the afternoons and exploring Ellis County with my camera bag, a tripod, and a map of the county sitting on the passenger seat as I search for scenes to capture with my infrared Nikon D200.
Yesterday I went downtown in Waxahachie and shot some infrared images of the beautiful old architecture of the area. Though I was dripping sweat in the Texas summer heat I got some wonderful images that are great representations of Waxahachie. Thought I would share!
I have been out using my infrared converted Nikon D200 for another week and here are some more results. The infrared spectrum definitely gives the world a more dream-like look with the different color spectrum it provides. It intrigues me that with such technologies (infrared cameras, x-ray machines, ultraviolet cameras) we are able to view the world in ways our eyes are unable to perceive. Just because we don’t see our surroundings in these ways does not make them any less of a reality. All deep thought aside, here are some more images.
I recently put together a piece about my inspirations as an artist. I looked at the work I most enjoy creating, night photography. Looking back at when my work during the twilight hours all began I thought about the artists who most inspired me and pushed me to create better work. I came up with three artists:
The first two both have an exceptional body of work in the world after sundown. Brassai was a early to mid 20th century photography who mostly worked in Paris. Chris Faust is a Minnesota native who still uses film to capture the magical movement of light across the landscape. Both inspired me in different ways and made me look at things from unique perspectives. Alec Soth is another Minnesota artist who has inspired me to think deeper about the places I photograph from reading his blogs and interviews.
Please take the time to check out the post and my thoughts as well as images from me and the artists I discuss here:
Photography in itself is magic. You capture a space and time as it once existed, and will never exist exactly the same again. Recently I was reading an essay from Minnesota photographer Alec Soth. Soth discusses how photography is a hoarder’s way to the world.
“I think photography is the most anti-Zen activity. It’s all about stopping time, possessing things, holding onto them. And you know, if my goal was to be a healthy person, photography would not be the thing. I have this joke about becoming a binoculographer: you go around and look at the world without photographing. That would be a spiritually healthy way of taking things in. But this wanting to possess it is not so healthy.”
This is true of most art, but especially photography. The artist is collecting as many images of the world as they can, trying to hang on to the place and moment that was in their sight. This recreates what all humans do in collecting memories, only it serves to visually reproduce the past.”
The way I most enjoying capturing the world to collect images is through night photography. These images represent a period of time in a specific place. The period of time can range anywhere from a few seconds to hours entirely depending on where you are and the amount of available light. In the past I have greatly enjoyed working in urban areas where there is ample light and my exposures range from 30 seconds to a minute. Recently, upon moving to Texas, I have found peace and solitude in working in rural areas where there is much less light for the camera to take in. This not only pushes my exposure times up, but also allows from movement in the stars and clouds above.
I originally drew inspiration from two artists when I began capturing night images while attending Anoka-Ramsey Community College in the Twin Cities. These two artists have very different bodies of work, but both work with film. Film has a certain magic that will never be met by digital. The fact they you are holding something tactile throughout the entire process and seeing the image appear in the liquid is an experience only somebody who has worked in a darkroom can understand.
The first artist of the two is Brassai. This artist photographed Paris in the night between the two World Wars. In his 1933 book Paris de Nuit (Paris by Night) he successfully captured the essence of Paris after dark. His images have a sense of feeling and emotion in them. Often they capture seedy locations in the veil of mist and fog using the ambient light to showcase particular parts of the image. As a student I took to the cities nearest me in search of something similar and began photographing the Minneapolis/St. Paul neighborhoods I knew and loved.
After several years of shooting night images a friend showed me work by a Minnesota photographer Chris Faust. Faust does a lot of night work in smaller towns that dot the landscape of Minnesota. He uses a panoramic medium format camera, which allows the capture of an intense amount of space and detail in each image. The photographs he creates give an incredible sense of the cold, quiet solitude of these off the beaten path locations throughout Minnesota. I felt fortunate being able to discuss process and technique with Faust through an exchange of e-mails a few years back. The communication taught me a great deal on exposure and alternative processing methods to create the desired contrast. These images have pushed me to recently get away from the cities and work in areas less traveled, which is a natural transition now that I live 45 minutes south of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex in Waxahachie, TX.
As with any artist my inspirations are endless and would bore anybody to hear about them all, but this is a basic grasp at what pushes me to create and a quality I strive to rival.
Check out mentioned artists:
Before moving to Texas I always envisioned the wide open desert and cattle lands. Part of this image is the roads and trails that led to the American West.
Once you are off the major highways and interstates in Texas you suddenly find yourself on small rural roads. This quickly amazed me. You are almost instantly surrounded by fields and ranch land. In Minnesota there seems to always be many main roads off of the highways. Texas seems to forego these “extra” roads and build everything directly on the highways using frontage roads.
On some of my afternoon drives I find myself enjoying the sunlight beating down on the seemingly endless roads through rural North Texas. The roads are all lined with fences and trees, yet are all unique. The obvious history of the railroad is also omnipresent. The rails cross roads everywhere showing a link to the past and how people, livestock, and product moved through the vast expanse of the American West through the mid 1800’s until the demise of mass rail transit in the mid 1900’s.
These afternoon drives in the midday Texas sun are not only great to relax, but are also photo scouting for locations for night photographs (such as the Forreston bank building: Abandoned and Forgotten Remnants of the Past on the Roads of Small Town Texas). These winding, forgotten roads hold many pieces of the past that have often been left to the elements and now hold a beauty in their rugged state.
I went out last night in the the 70 degree March weather of Texas; a welcome change from the below freezing Minnesota weather I am used to being out in.
I went to visit the small town of Forreston, TX to shoot the abandoned building on Hwy. 77 in what was likely once “downtown.”
Like many small towns throughout Texas there was once a need for a local bank and other businesses, but these towns long ago perished as America moved towards mass transit highways. Now there is no need for these small town businesses and downtown districts.
What once stood as a proud symbol of the prosperity of Forreston is now nothing more than a skeleton of the brick structure. A town that once had several cotton gins and was a stop along the Katy Railroad is now just another North Texas off the beaten path town.